Tester: ‘Now is the time’ for Swift Action on Historic Toxic Exposure Legislation

Chairman took to Senate floor to urge support for his bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022

After unveiling text of his historic bipartisan toxic exposure package earlier this week, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester today urged the Senate to quickly pass the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 while speaking on the Senate floor.

“Today is a historic day. Today, the Senate has agreed to move one step forward on the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson PACT Act of 2022,” said Chairman Tester. “It is the most comprehensive exposure package our country has ever delivered. It’s been decades in the making.”

He continued, “You don’t have to be exposed to Agent Orange or burn pits to understand that price. Veterans in my state and across the country are already paying for it and they can no longer. Now is the time, folks. We’re going to get back from Memorial Day, we will all be at Memorial Day events, and we will celebrate the folks who gave the ultimate sacrifice. When we come back, we need to vote and celebrate those who have survived but yet have the impacts of toxic exposure. I would encourage your support for this bill when we come back the week of June 6th.”

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 is comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to deliver all eras of toxic-exposed veterans their earned health care and benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history. Among its many priorities, the package will expand health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans, create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure, expand VA’s list of service presumptions, and improve resources to support VA’s claims processing.

Tester is the only member of the Montana delegation who sits on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He has long been dedicated to identifying a path forward for unaddressed toxic exposure issues alongside Veterans Service Organizations—remaining committed to delivering comprehensive relief to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans. Last week, he announced a bipartisan agreement on the comprehensive bill and expressed urgency that a Senate floor vote take place swiftly.