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Thune, Rounds, Senate GOP Block Health Care for Poisoned Veterans… Out of Pure Political Pique?

Last month, both of South Dakota’s Senators voted against the PACT Act, the measure to expand assistance for military personnel poisoned by toxic burn pits and other hazardous materials while serving our country. The Senate passed the PACT Act over South Dakota’s objection 84–14, but now Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds have rallied their fellow Republicans to block the bill:

Republican lawmakers blocked passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate Wednesday that expands healthcare coverage for military veterans who were exposed to toxins and burn pits during their service.

All Democrats and eight Republicans voted for the Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, but the 55 yes votes fell short of the 60 needed to end a filibuster in the Senate. Three Senators did not vote.

…The House passed the PACT Act by a 342-88 vote on July 13, about a month after the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 84-14.

The Senate had to retake the bill up on Wednesday because the House passed some minor changes in its version [Brad Dress, “GOP Senators Block Bill Expanding Care for Veterans Exposed to Toxins,” The Hill, 2022.07.27].

Republicans leaders didn’t initially say why they were reneging on their support for poisoned veterans, but Democrats note this reversal came the same day Democrats announced their breakthrough deal on the budget:

But the block came just as Democratic leaders announced plans for a comprehensive budget reconciliation measure — a plan that the GOP caucus previously pledged to oppose, including increased efforts to snarl normal business in the chamber.

Democratic leaders immediately attacked their colleagues putting political vendettas ahead of needed veterans benefits.

“This eleventh-hour act of cowardice will actively harm this country’s veterans and their families,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont. “Republicans chose today to rob generations of toxic-exposed veterans across this country of the health care and benefits they so desperately need.

“And make no mistake, more veterans will suffer and die as a result.”

Republican leaders gave no public comment on the reasons behind the surprise move, or on what changes would be needed to move the legislation ahead. The Senate is scheduled to go on a month-long recess on Aug. 5, and advocates had hoped to have the PACT Act on the president’s desk before then.

That timeline appears out of reach now [Leo Shane III, “New Benefits for Burn Pit Victims in Limbo After Senate Republicans Block Plan,” Military Times, 2022.07.27].

Voting against health care for poisoned veterans is a bad look in itself. Voting against it just because you’re mad because the other party might be on the road to scoring a big win on some other piece of legislation is even worse.


  1. jerry 2022-07-28 10:35

    Thune and EB5 Rounds are both fascism supporters. They could care about veterans and our issues to say or think otherwise, is just not their game. Dirty Johnson is also on board with the same crap. What is rather funny to me is how they whine like little bitches about the closing of Hot Springs to save their votes there, nothing to do with veterans, only the money right wing supporters shell out to these fascists.

  2. All Mammal 2022-07-28 11:13

    Man, they have no soul. It feels like I’m trapped in a bad relationship and my heart keeps getting broken maliciously in front of my kids and I cannot protect them. I cannot describe it any other way but abuse.

  3. ABC 2022-07-28 12:06

    Military veterans are workers after all, and so Thune and RoundsEB5 always say consistently Screw workers!
    They always vote way.

    Who are the veterans bosses according to ThuneRounds? The Senators!

    Since King Trump, a Francisco Franco wannabe, wont be Resident in 2025, Republican Senators always look out for their Constituent, themselves!

    Poisoned in Iraq or Afghanistan or any other ‘Stan we sent you to? Tough luck! Buck up!

    Even tho the Veterans are defending the Senators right to hang out with lobbyists and Trump sound-alikes, we know that Thune and Rounds only stand for their right to create the next Thune-istan and Rounds-istan, when they are lobbied and given pink underpants by their defense and industry lobbyists!

    We have to stop this nonsense. We have to think innovatively on a more than industrial scale.

    Since the voters now are smoking ThuneRounds weed and ThuneRounds opium, and vote that way, too,
    The odds of Progressives, Democrats, and left of Center Libertarians winning on a November night every 2 years is slim, at best.

    Democracy Nixonized produces millions of poor white people brainwashed into voting against themselves and every voter of color and their children. So many voters act as aw shucks clones of the ThuneRoundsDirtyJohnson bad boys.

    Democracy is not about white guys in nasty blue suits (Yes, Noem is a man. I haven’t seen her birth certificate yet.).

    Democracy is about US (Yes look at yourself in the mirror!) out innovating the burn pit loving Republicans !,
    Write the vision, make it plain. Says the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament.

    We are writing novels here in Cory’s newsletter here.

    The vision make it plain so everyone can understand what it is. Democrats in Sioux Falls don’t have a vision and aren’t making it plain.

    We can write the vision. We can make it happen.

    But it will look a lot different than things are now.

    The prison industrial Citibank complex will vanish from the face of our portion of earth.

    Our salaries will be so high, we will say, JESUS!!! Whenever we look at our paychecks.

    We won’t care about our new state income tax because 2% of 100K plus is better to pay that, than 0% of 38K in the ThuneRoundsDirty days.

    Electric cars, 90% of the cars South Dakotans own, will have passing privileges in the left lane, gas cars will always have to bear right and never pass on a highway.

    We will have 3 Co-Governors. In a typical election selection year, One will always be Native, the other two will be white and a person color. Out state Constitution will always say only one Caucasian out of 3 will be a CoGovernor.

    The Old Capitol Building, formerly a homeless hotel, now becomes our Innovation Center, where workers rotate in and out on their 90 day rock star jobs to ultra innovate our State.

    THUNE and Daaauuugaaard reject the capitalist safety net countries their ancestors came from, Norway and Denmark. Thune and DirtyRoundsJohnson have created a State (and a movie also starring Josh Brolin) called No Country For Old Babies (Over 1 day old) which is a post industrial wasteland of low wages, incarceration politics, and corruption). The people will create a Scandinavian style capitalist Ultra Democracy, once we reject the Republicans and meToo Democrats, and build a democracy which respects people , as we are all VIPs.

    Equality is the ultimate right we all have.

  4. Loren 2022-07-28 12:27

    Isn’t (#2 “leader” of the Senate) Thune the guy that whips votes for passage or failure, a.k.a. the Mitch bitch? Can’t someone nail this @#$%^&* “gentleman” when he comes back to SD? Can’t veterans see/understand he is just a rubber stamp. Give him your vote and then watch him do Mitch’s bidding. You thought he represented you? LOL!

  5. O 2022-07-28 13:32

    Party first. The GOP cares MOST about the GOP; any help that Senate Democrats can provide MUST be blocked because of the political zero-sum calculus of the GOP. Additionally, government must be ineffectual at every turn so that the GOP can continue to run for office against big government. Even the old line of “we got the Democrats to cave and help our veterans” does not fly in this new obstructionist environment.

  6. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-28 14:48

    Neither Thune (who did not serve) or Rounds (a National Guardsman, but not a combat infantryman) ever heard a shot fired in anger. Neither ever were wounded by bullet or shrapnel, or both. Neither has wept over a fallen brother. South Dakota always is among the states leading the nation in the number of veterans who served in the combat branches in a combat assignment. Thune and Rounds do not represent the patriots (the real patriots) who willingly or begrudgingly put their lives at risk for their country.

  7. larry kurtz 2022-07-28 17:22

    Of course, Herr Trump believes military personnel are mercenaries, losers and suckers so Dan Lederman and a well-regulated militia are all that’s needed to protect South Dakota from China, right?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-28 17:44

    Senator Susan Collins says the collapse of even these meager bits of bipartisanship from the Republicans is coming from their pique at Democrats making progress on the budget bill—not even sealing the budget deal, since Sinema still has to join Manchin in saying okee-dokee, and we need to get all of the Dems out of the hospital and on the floor to vote on it after the August recess. Collins says the Republicans may bail on the bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage, too, just because they need to take as many other perceived victories away from Democrats as they can juast in case Democrats deliver a nice budget bill to President Biden before the midterm election.

    That, veterans, is why Republicans now don’t want to pay for the medicine and treatment you need to deal with the poisoning you suffered while serving in the wars we sent you to fight.

  9. Wayne Specht 2022-07-28 17:51

    Both closet insurrectionists and Grump bootlickers Thune and Rounds demonstrated their hatred of veterans despite championing veteran support in their meaningless election commercials. Sorry all the sacrifices South Dakota veterans made for our country have been relegated to the trash pile..

  10. Dicta 2022-07-28 18:12

    Well, this is a kick in the teeth.

  11. P. Aitch 2022-07-28 19:23

    Republicans are the victims in life not veterans. Just ask Don the Con. Never has a self-labeled billionaire been so persecuted and unfairly treated.

  12. W R Old Guy 2022-07-28 21:55

    Republicans have voiced support for our military and vets for decades but really support contractors and the defense industry.
    I spent twenty years in the military and another twenty-five working for the VA.
    I recall when the Centennial Housing was built at Ellsworth in the 1980s The contract went to an out of state company who underbid local contractors by millions. The company also had a record of substandard performance at other bases. The company was a big donor to the Republican Party and used undocumented labor. The housing was not built to code and in some cases uninhabitable. The company was sued and had to fix the housing plus a five million fine.
    President Bush in instituted “Means Testing” in 2003 for VA health care for new enrollments that did not have a rated disability. It was instituted due to budget constraints. The Means Test was used to determine the financial status of the vet and deny health care to those vets whose income was too high.
    I had to tell WW II and Korean vets that they needed to apply for a disability because they had never enrolled for care. Most had the same story. “I felt there were others who needed the care more than me” so I did not enroll at the time. They were now retired and needed help with medical care and prescription meds.
    These are just two examples out of many.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-28 22:59

    “It’s a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight”, an adage from the Civil War, still applies. There are several reasons why we drafted and encourage recruitment fof young men and women age 18 to 25. Young men and women are under the impression that they are indestructible. As they age they realize their vulnerability if they did not during their service. My father, with three purple hearts on his chest, took an 18% disability in 1946 though he could not walk. He wanted out of the service and out of the Army. Much later, after prostate cancer surgery, he learned that if you had been wounded in the groin and developed prostate cancer, you were eligible to have your disability reevaluated. He had a piece of shrapnel removed from his groin at an aid station on Guadacanal. It took him years to find his records in St. Louis but luckily remembered the name of the doctor and using that name as a reference, found a record of the doctor removing a seven inch piece of shrapnel. According to Thune and Rounds it’s still a rich man’s war and that rich man cannot afford continued medical care for the poor man, maimed and disabled, who defended their country, when their country asked for their life and their courage.

  14. Eve Fisher 2022-07-29 09:11

    Still, let’s not forget the true nature of the GOP:
    “Republicans haven’t met a war they won’t sign up for and they haven’t met a veteran they won’t screw over.” – Jon Stewart

  15. cibvet 2022-07-29 09:58

    If Thune and Rounds are confronted about their vote, their standard answer will be “The bill was not good enough, I wanted something better”. The sad part is that most repubs will swallow this BS hook, line and sinker. As Stewart said,” how do you shame the shameless?

  16. Guy 2022-07-29 10:20

    Arlo: “According to Thune and Rounds it’s still a rich man’s war and that rich man cannot afford continued medical care for the poor man, maimed and disabled, who defended their country, when their country asked for their life and their courage.”
    I’m so TIRED of all this. But, I’m not TIRED ENOUGH to give up. As an Independent Voter, I’m supporting Brian Bengs and Jamie Smith. My hope is not vanquished and I’ve put it into the best action I can: to vote for Bengs & Smith. IT’S OUR MONEY AS US TAX PAYERS and OUR MONEY should be spent on our VETERANS, INFRASTRUCTURE, and helping our citizens. NO MORE MONEY FOR WARS AND DESTRUCTION. NO MORE MONEY FOR CORPORATIONS.

  17. Jenny 2022-07-29 10:37

    The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.
    -Mahatma Ghandi

  18. oldtimerDon 2022-07-29 20:01

    I thought the SD delegation to DC had sunk about as low as they could go and still get away with it. Wow, was I ever wrong. Perhaps SD needs an RRPH (Retired Republicans Retirement Home). Pay them twice their existing salary, tape all their political speeches so they could have non-stop entertainment and gratification–they could hold their own “gratification” ralllys . Ordain them with some title that they could not refuse. The only caveat is that nether they nor their progeny can ever hold political office in SD again.
    Would be cheaper in the long run, especially for the decent people of S (there are many), I was born, raised, educated and made an honest living in SD. I was once proud of that. What the hell has gone wrong–or did I just wake up from very long coma? You could not get me to return to the state for my own funeral and burial unless things changed radically and quickly.

  19. Francis Schaffer 2022-07-29 20:52

    This reminds me of some lines from the movie; ‘Call me Lucky’. Barry Crimmins mentioned Jimmy Carter’s book ‘A Government as Good as its People’. Barry then said ‘Boy we suck’. I feel this all too often when our elected representatives justify a vote which doesn’t reflect the citizens view on the issue. I should know better than to hope that logic, reason, and stated Christian values would guide decisions.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-30 07:24

    To cibvet’s point, the “better” Thune and Rounds want is a bill for which Republicans can take exclusive credit.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-30 07:26

    OldTimerDon, we need to hope that we can retire the current regime and that their old, dyed-in-the-wool voters will retire and leave the electorate along with them before they can be replaced by enough of the young brownshirts and bullies to maintain the GOP stranglehold on our politics.

  22. mike from iowa 2022-07-30 08:45

    Watch Marlboro Barbie smile for maybe the first time ever as he takes softball ?s from Krudlow.

    Plus he blames Biden for inflation and high fuel costs.

  23. SODAK34 Post author | 2022-08-01 18:45

    [submitted 2022.07.28]: Can you believe it?? Has anyone asked them “WHY”?? Were either of them or a member of their family in Iraq or Afghanistan?? What do they stand for?? Why are we as SD voters electing them back to office after this??

  24. Jenny 2022-08-01 20:47

    Thune and Rounds voted against it because they don’t want Biden and the Democrats to take credit for it. Pubs, as always, are best at putting politics before common decency. Democrats never stoop that low. We have our POS Dem leaders in DC also but today’s Pubs are just downright nasty, thanks to Trumpism.

    Kudos to Jon Stewart for calling them out.

  25. jerry 2022-08-02 10:21

    Duh Thune and EB5 Rounds will support the burn pit bill this week. They know now what idiots they are. The turtle man has now told them to get in lock step and be good little boys and girls. Veterans will get the help they need, no thanks to these frauds.

    BTW, someone wrote that EB5 Rounds was in the national guard, I cannot find any place that defends that statement. Neither of these jackals has ever put on a uniform.

  26. jerry 2022-08-03 03:07

    Vets Win!! Fascism, (Duh Thune and EB5 Rounds) to the back of the bus. After all their lies, the two of them voted for veterans. Those vets on the staffs of both these known fascists, should resign. Last I knew, EB5 Rounds had a retired general and high ranking NCO that both got their reputations stained with this nonsense. What a stank.

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-17 16:31

    I note, Mike, that the article link has to urge people to watch the ad for a minute to get to the twist. Bengs needs to tighten that ad up so it gets to the point faster. I assume the ad team will cut it into tighter 30-second versions for TV.

  28. larry kurtz 2022-08-17 16:54

    Last I checked Mr. Thune’s medical insurance is through the DC Obamacare HealthLink so was Mrs. Noem when she was in Congress and Howdy Doody Dusty probably is, too but being a salesman for his own company Mr. Rounds is self-insured.

  29. mike from iowa 2022-08-17 18:15

    My heart soars to hear someone, anyone take a shot at Marlboro Barbie. South Duhkota magats get too many free passes at anytime, let alone election cycles.

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