Rand Paul says veteran toxic exposure bill ‘puts our economy at risk’
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) railed against the economic impact of a bill on veterans’ exposure to toxic substances in the Senate on Tuesday, shortly before the chamber voted against his amendment to help offset the cost by reducing foreign aid.
“This bill, however, puts our economy at risk by creating presumptions of service connection for the most common ailments,” Paul said of the $278 billion bill, which would expand benefits for veterans. suffering from diseases due to toxic exposures.
He noted the significant number of Americans suffering from conditions such as hypertension and asthma, both of which are included in the bill, saying that expanding coverage would result in the use of money from taxpayers to treat veterans whose diagnoses were unrelated to their service.
“This bill would cost hundreds of billions of dollars at a time when the national debt is soaring to over $30 trillion and inflation is at its highest level in 40 years,” he said. .
“But the federal debt was created by Congress, not by our veterans, and those who served in the armed forces shouldn’t be the ones to pay the price for government mismanagement,” Paul added.
Paul said his amendment, which failed 90-7, would create a 10-year moratorium on foreign aid administered by the United States Agency for International Development, except for funds destined for Israel.
Paul’s amendment was the first of three GOP amendments to pass with a 60-vote threshold before a final vote on the full bill. The other two amendments come from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
The amendment votes are part of a deal reached on Tuesday to pass the bill, which comes after a days-long standoff that began when Republicans blocked the bill last week in a vote 55-42.
Twenty-five Republicans who originally voted to push the bill forward in June voted against the legislation last week, citing what they called a “budget trick.”
However, Democrats pointed out that many of the same GOP senators had already voted for the same bill and blamed the sudden opposition on Democrats to move forward with a separate spending deal on climate, health and taxes.
The standoff has sparked outrage from comedian Jon Stewart and the veteran community, with activists staging a sit-in on the Capitol steps since Thursday.