ARLINGTON, Va. (DC News Now) — The fight to expand medical coverage for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their service hit a roadblock on Thursday when Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have made more people eligible for the benefits.

The move blindsided Democrats and veteran advocates who say the help couldn’t come a day too soon, and a delay is harmful.

Tons of veterans call Northern Virginia home, and on the day after the votes were cast, some called out the senators who blocked the bill from becoming law.

Maj. Edward Garcia was one of them. He did six tours overseas, including time in both Iraq and Afghanistan as recently as 2018. He was exposed to those burn pits and has suffered symptoms since his return. Now, he’s asking Congress to do more to protect those who have served the country.

Garcia lives in Arlington with his wife and his two daughters, and after 22 years of service for his country, he’s no stranger to the health ramifications of war.

He said he’s experienced “frequent bloody noses, shortness of breath, hives” and an increase in the number of allergies he’s developed — from nuts to various types of grass. While it’s tough to prove the burn pits cause the issues, Garcia is certainly not the only one facing them.

“And by the time that you’re able to prove it, chances are your health is fading fast,” he said.

That’s why Garcia, like every voting Senate Democrat and eight Republicans, supported the PACT Act. But the majority of Republicans blocked the bill, some citing a “budget gimmick.”

“There were things put in bills, as often happens, that made it not passable according to the majority of the Republican views,” Maj. Angela McConnell, the president of NOVA Vets, said. “My opinion? That does not matter.”

McConnell and Garcia, who serves on NOVA Vets’ board, say even if the bill is re-introduced and passed, it will have taken too long.

“Every day that passes, every week that passes, keeps pushing our veterans lower and lower on the priority list of being taken care of, and that’s just it’s unacceptable,” McConnell said.

“We run the risk of more and more veterans not receiving the help that they need and their families that are going to be struggling once those veterans sadly pass away,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the bill is not a perfect fix, but one that needed to pass.

“When we return, historically, Congress — regardless of who they are, regardless of what party they are — tend to forget about veterans once they do the job,” he said.

Now, he’s calling on senators to listen to him and the voices of other veterans.

“Consider those who have already given so much,” he said. “Why would you ask them to continue to give more after they’ve gone through what they’ve gone through