Sen. Tom Coburn tried to do the right thing for science, veterans and taxpayers yesterday, but was rebuffed by a vote of 69-30.
Coburn’s amendment to the FY2012 Veterans Affairs appropriations bill would have required the VA secretary to determine,
… a “causal relationship” — instead of a [mere] “positive association” — between a veteran’s illness and exposure to toxic substances [like Agent Orange] before presuming the ailment is connected to the veteran’s service and contributing to their healthcare costs.
As reported by Environment and Energy Daily,
Coburn argued on the Senate floor that the provision was a “common sense amendment” to make sure the government is not paying to treat disabilities that were not rooted in service. He acknowledged that cutting back on VA disability spending is a “tough vote” but said the current budgetary crisis warrants it.
The amendment, Coburn said, could save the United States $42.2 billion over the next 10 years.
“If we pay for disabilities that aren’t associated with service,” Coburn said, “we’ll have less money for a veteran with a disability that is associated with service.”
He added: “We are throwing money at disabilities that are not caused by veterans’ exposures.”
Coburn’s bill would have stopped the Agent Orange compensation scam in its tracks as there is no credible evidence that the herbicide mix (2,4-D and 2,4,5-T with by-product dioxins) ever harmed anyone or anything except the Viet Cong who had less jungle foliage to hide behind.
Kudos to Sen. Coburn for trying. There’s always next year!