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Thune, Rounds Flip on PACT Act, Finally Approve $280B to Treat Poisoned Veterans

Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds found their way back to G.I. Jesus yesterday. After voting twice this summer against the PACT Act to expand health care benefits to veterans poisoned by burn pits and other toxic hazards while defending the United States, South Dakota’s spineless Senate duo joined every Democratic Senator and most of their Republican colleagues in finally passing this veterans’ health measure and sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk:

The U.S. Senate, in a bipartisan 86-11 vote, approved a measure to provide health care and benefits for millions of veterans injured by exposure to toxins, from Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Known as the PACT Act, the bill no longer would force generations of veterans to prove that their illness was caused by toxic exposures suffered in the military in order to get VA coverage. It had been hailed as the largest expansion of care in VA history, and was expected to cost $280 billion over a decade [vote link added; staff, “The Senate Passes Help for Veterans Exposed to Toxins, After a Reversal Drew Fury,” NPR, 2022.08.02].

Evidently Thune and Rounds figured out that voting against veterans out of mere pique at Democrats’ progress toward getting other things done is a really bad look.

But $280 billion in new spending? Good heavens, imagine all the inflation that will inevitably result….


  1. larry kurtz 2022-08-03 08:51

    In the name of geoengineering or albedo modification the US Air Force routinely sprays into the atmosphere over the ocean an aerosol cocktail of silver iodide, lead iodide, aluminum oxide, barium, frozen carbon dioxide, common salt, water and soot from burning hazardous waste in pits concocted at Air Force bases including those at Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City. Officials at Ellsworth Air Force Base say nine private drinking water wells in Box Elder tested above the US Environmental Protection Agency health advisory level for two chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, compounds in a foam used to fight petroleum-based fires at a site where pit fires are common. The Cheyenne River is already a toxic waste dump.

    Now PFAS are even found in rain.

  2. Ryan 2022-08-03 09:06

    i had never reached out to either of these fellows before, but after their recent No votes, I emailed both of their offices describing my embarrassment. I doubt either one actually read my comments, but i’m happy to see they changed their votes anyway.

  3. mike from iowa 2022-08-03 09:58

    Concensus around the country was magats having scorn heaped on them for blocking this bill. Another large miscalculation by the party that doen’t try to shoot straight.

    Remeber, Marlboro Barbie is Sinate min ority whip. His job is to get and keep his party’s members voting the way McCTurtleexpletivedeletedface wants.

  4. mike from iowa 2022-08-03 10:04

    Good on you, Ryan. I know Cory pushes civility towards these SOBs, but, I say eff them if they can’t take a joke and eff them if they can take a joke. They don’t work for South Duhkota just like iowa’s wholly owned subsidiaries of big business, Lying Grassley and Ivanna Kuturnutzov Ernst.

  5. jkl 2022-08-03 10:29

    mike from iowa – please knock off the disparaging turtle comments.🐢

  6. Loren 2022-08-03 12:23

    The first thing John Thune does when he awakens is to stick his finger in the air and see which way the wind is blowing that day. The second thing he does is check Mitch’s to-do list. The guy is rubber stamp. He has no core values. He flip flops more than a beached carp… military health(Guess who spent a total of ZERO days in uniform?), deficits, time required to nominate a Supreme court justice, missing records (Hillary vs. the entire Trump presidency), oh, and his “I will seek for 2 terms as senator.” Etc, etc, etc… But he is pretty in those photo ops.

  7. O 2022-08-03 16:12

    Loren, Sen. Thune spent zero days in uniform AND never has to worry about his health care being provided to him. He has experience in NEITHER of the worlds these sick soldiers must face.

  8. John 2022-08-03 16:39

    The only conclusion one is able to make is that Thune and Rounds were lying when they made excuses for their first two votes against the PACT Act.
    Nothing changed in the bill between their 3 votes. No language changed. No budgeting changed. Thune and Rounds were playing political games.
    It’s long past time to retire them.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-03 21:33

    I can only concur with John. Obviously, the Republicans in the Senate were just putting sugar in the gas tank of the PACT bill, but what they hoped to accomplish, I don’t know. After their wanton messing around with Vet Health Care, they got swamped in the court of public opinion. Why they put themselves in that position is a mystery. All it did was expose their overwhelming cynicism.

  10. O 2022-08-04 12:10

    Two of the veterans seeking help through this bill committed suicide between the GOP vote to stop the bill and their flip back to support (according to Jon Stewart’s podcast). Actions, in this case the GOP action to delay, have real consequences on real people. Senate decisions are not hypothetical/philosophical for the people affected — even if they are only political games for Thune, Rounds, et al.

  11. Paladn 2022-08-04 13:58

    Perhaps it proves that Thune, Rounds or someone in their offices can count! Oh wait, I forgot, there is an election on the horizon.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-04 14:13

    Suicides—that’s grim, O. I wonder if Thune and Rounds even noticed or would acknowledge even a glancing culpability.

    Paladn, I suspect there are some arithmetic skills in our Senators’ offices… by why didn’t those skills manifest themselves to candidate Thune back in June? Thune’s opponent, Navy and Air Force veteran Brian Bengs, was as much of an electoral threat then as he is now.

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