Veterans groups, Gillibrand criticize blockage of veteran health care bill


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) cosponsors legislation ensuring veterans receive health coverage for treating cancers related to toxic burn pits. (Jillian Forstadt/WSKG)

Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked passage of a bill providing funding to veterans suffering from the effects of toxic burn pits Wednesday, drawing criticism from Democrats and veterans organizations.

Representatives from Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion rallied with Democratic lawmakers Thursday.

Susan Zeier’s son-in-law died from cancer that doctors believe is connected to fumes he inhaled while serving in Iraq.

“They voted against my family,” Zeier said. “They voted for all of us to suffer. They are endorsing our suffering.”

Republican senators say they blocked the bill because they were not allowed bring up amendments on the Senate floor.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) cosponsors the legislation and fumed at her Republican colleagues over their blockage of the measure.

“This is total bullshit,” Gillibrand said. “This is the worst form of over politicization I have literally ever seen.”

One of the leading opponents to the bill is Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who argues the legislation allows for unrestricted spending.

A nearly identical version of the legislation was approved 84-14 last month, with 34 Republican senators and all Democrats voting in favor. The legislation was then approved by the House of Representatives, but had to be sent back to the Senate to fix a technical error.