U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voted ‘no’ on the PACT – Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics – Act, which seeks to give healthcare funds to veterans who were exposed to toxic waste pits and Agent Orange.
Paul was one of eleven Republican senators to vote against the bill, which would have expanded access to healthcare for those seeking help after being exposed to Agent Orange, a “herbicide mixture used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War,” according to the Aspen Institute.
The healthcare bill would also help those exposed to toxic waste pits, which were pits built to dispose of waste on military bases. The practice of the pits occurred in most American wars until the mid-2010s. The waste often included plastics, rubber, chemical, and medical waste.
Paul said he voted against the bill because it has potential economic implications for the country.
“We must take care of our veterans and keep our country strong,” Paul said on the Senate floor. “This bill puts our economy, though, at risk by creating presumptions of service connection for the most common of ailments.”
A presumption of service connection is when Veterans Affairs assumes a veteran has a condition because of their military service.
The ailments Paul referred to include hypertension and asthma.
“According to the CDC, 50% of men and 44% of women in the United States have hypertension,” Paul said, arguing that this bill will cost hundreds of billions of dollars at a time when the national debt is climbing over $30 trillion and “inflation is at a 40-year high.”
Charles Booker, the Democratic candidate challenging Paul for the Senate, Tweeted that Paul’s vote is a slap in the face to veterans.
“Kentucky is home to 300,000 veterans,” Booker Tweeted. “What Rand Paul did yesterday is a slap in the face to every single one of them.”
Paul also said the national debt is the fault of Congress, and veterans shouldn’t pay for the government’s mismanagement.
“I propose we pay for this bill by establishing a 10-year moratorium on foreign aid,” Paul said.
Booker said he would vote in favor of veterans.
“Unlike Rand Paul, I would’ve voted to provide increased VA benefits to toxic exposed veterans,” he Tweeted.