WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) released the following statement after voting no on the PACT Act:
“I have long been involved in addressing the issue of toxic exposure, ensuring toxic-exposed veterans receive the care and benefits they have earned and deserve. I strongly support the goal of the PACT Act and I drafted large portions of the legislative text. The package includes the TEAM Act, legislation I introduced that establishes an enduring, scientifically-backed framework for determining past, present, and future presumptions. Additionally, this legislation includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, introduced by Senator Burr and myself. Congress has an obligation to ensure the VA can effectively and efficiently implement any comprehensive toxic exposure legislation and, unfortunately, I continue to have reservations about the Department’s ability to do so.
“While well-intentioned, the PACT Act creates new promises to veterans while breaking existing ones, which is why I could not support its passage. Just this week, I listened to Secretary McDonough describe the challenges the VA is facing in meeting current obligations and it’s clear that the Department does not have the capacity to properly implement the PACT Act. This legislation will have adverse operational and administrative impacts, and I remain concerned that it will result in increased wait times, delays in receiving care, and a substantial increase in the claims backlog. I fully expect that in the coming years, Congress will be forced to make substantial changes to account for these unintended consequences.
“This is why I advocated for a bipartisan amendment process that would have undoubtedly strengthened this legislation and ensured that the VA was fully prepared for implementation. However, Majority Leader Schumer refused to allow improvements to the bill to be considered. Despite this, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the VA to ensure these operational impacts are mitigated in the coming years.”