Jon Stewart celebrates after Senate passes invoice to help veterans uncovered to toxins | US Senate

Jon Stewart celebrates after Senate passes invoice to help veterans uncovered to toxins | US Senate

After every week of anger and criticism from veterans teams and advocates, together with comic Jon Stewart, Senate Republicans have lastly agreed to go a invoice increasing well being care and advantages for veterans uncovered to toxins.

“I am unsure I’ve ever seen this case the place individuals who have already given a lot needed to battle so laborious to obtain so little,” mentioned Stewart, who joined veterans in pushing the invoice. “I hope we’ve realized a lesson.”

Often known as the Compact Act, the invoice handed the Senate on Tuesday evening in a vote of 86-11.

It is going to present help to veterans who had been uncovered to dangerous chemical compounds throughout their service, corresponding to Agent Orange throughout the Vietnam Conflict, or toxins from wells used to burn army waste in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Division of Protection estimates that round 3.5 million service members might have been uncovered to combustion pits within the Center East. Such chemical compounds may cause respiratory sicknesses and most cancers in uncovered individuals, medical consultants mentioned.

At the moment, veterans have needed to show that the sicknesses had been service-connected, and the Division of Veterans Affairs didn’t contemplate toxin publicity a service-connected situation. The division has denied about 75% of veterans’ burn pit claims.

The Compact Act handed the Home final month and was supported by most Republican senators till final week, when a coalition of Republican senators stopped the invoice from passing. Senators mentioned they now not supported the invoice after Democrats introduced that they had reached an settlement on a significant tax and local weather invoice on Wednesday.

Veteran advocates harshly denounced the Republican U-turn. Stewart referred to as them “veteran stab-in-the-back senators.” Protests erupted exterior the Capitol.

On Tuesday evening, Senate Majority Chief Democrat Chuck Schumer introduced that he and his Republican counterpart, Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, had reached an settlement on the invoice. At a information convention, McConnell mentioned the Republicans’ objections had been a part of the “legislative course of.”

“This sort of forwards and backwards occurs on a regular basis within the legislative course of, you’ve got seen it over time,” he mentioned. “I feel in the long run, veterans service organizations shall be happy with the tip outcome.”

Joe Biden praised the invoice’s passage, saying, “We should always all take pleasure on this second.” In his most up-to-date State of the Union tackle earlier this yr, the US president talked about that his son Beau, who was in Iraq for a yr and later died of mind most cancers, could have been sufferer of the combustion pit toxins.

“The Legislation of the Covenant would be the best enlargement of [veterans affairs] healthcare in many years,” Biden tweeted. “We are able to by no means repay the debt we owe to those that have worn the uniform, however at the moment, Congress saved a promise to our veterans and their households.”

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