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Pennsylvania’s Casey, Toomey on opposite sides of federal burn pit legislation

  • Tom MacDonald/WHYY
CORRECTS DATE TO 2022 - Veterans, military family members and advocates are joined by activist Jon Stewart, center, as he talks with Patrick Murray, legislative service director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as they urge Senate Republicans to change their votes on a bill designed to help millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

CORRECTS DATE TO 2022 - Veterans, military family members and advocates are joined by activist Jon Stewart, center, as he talks with Patrick Murray, legislative service director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as they urge Senate Republicans to change their votes on a bill designed to help millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A bill that would expand health care coverage for military veterans impacted by toxic burn pits was rejected by Republican senators last week.

The measure divided Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators. Democrat Sen. Bob Casey urged Republicans to change their opposition to the measure that’s been hailed as the largest expansion of care in VA history.

Republicans balked last week, claiming the bill was an excuse to add $400 billion of spending to the mandatory category of the budget.

Casey said the bill initially had bipartisan support with 84 votes and those who voted against it now are just maneuvering to have their will done instead of the majority.

“These veterans have been waiting for years, waiting for years for the federal government to do something,” Casey said during a conference call with reporters Monday. “Why the hell should this be held up when someone is making the case, as some senators are about, about appropriations down the road?”

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