Veterans showed up to a Capitol Hill office of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week to seek answers about his vote against advancing a bill that would expand healthcare opportunities for veterans exposed to certain toxic substances during their service.
“[Ted Cruz] called the police on us veteran advocates & #veterans when we showed up to question his NO vote,” Eric Holguin, a participant in an ongoing protest for the legislation, said late Thursday. “[Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)] has been with us since the beginning — came to join us tonight and offered us food, her office to rest in, & restrooms while we camp out on the Capitol steps.” Holguin also posted footage of law enforcement showing up to confront the veterans hoping for answers from Cruz. Republican Senators opted to vote against the advancement of the legislation this week over supposed budgetary concerns.
“The PACT Act as written includes a budget gimmick that would allow $400 billion of current law spending to be moved from the discretionary to the mandatory spending category,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) complained, adding the change would supposedly “enable an additional $400 billion in future discretionary spending completely unrelated to veterans.” As recently explained by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in reference to disputed budgetary provisions of the bill, Toomey’s “argument is that what that does is that frees up a lot of room under [discretionary spending] caps for Democrats to spend more money through the regular appropriations process.” Toomey wants the legislation to specify handling funding it outlines through the yearly appropriations process instead of making it mandatory.
The Senate will evidently be soon voting again on advancing the legislation in an effort to get around GOP opposition. Cruz shared complaints about the proposal similar in nature to Toomey’s nonsense, saying Democrats undertook a “budgetary trick” by turning “discretionary” spending into something “mandatory” between the first time the Senate voted on the bill — when it passed — and now. The re-vote was necessary because of technical changes made to it — “some technical corrections having nothing to do with the substance of the bill,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called them. As Toomey further explained his take in another rant, the bill making a certain tranche of hundreds of billions of dollars into “mandatory” spending makes “a big, gaping hole in the discretionary spending category, which can be filled with another $400 billion of totally unrelated spending.” Discretionary spending has limits unlike those on “mandatory” spending, Toomey outlined.
In other words, his opposition to getting vets the healthcare support they need in a timely fashion is apparently based in an alleged concern about the potential for somebody to spend something at some point because the allowance is there. What a flimsy, embarrassing excuse. He’s said he’s in support of the underlying purpose of the bill — but that’s a hollow promise when blocking the bill from actually moving forward because of complaints about procedure. Is healthcare for veterans really not safe from Republicans playing politics? See posts about veterans pursuing answers from Cruz over his highly controversial opposition below:
Here's the video of cops showing up. They followed us around the rest of the day. pic.twitter.com/HHUMqrog7L
— Eric Holguin (@EricHolguinTX) July 29, 2022