Senate passes burn pit laws to increase veteran well being care

Senate passes burn pit laws to increase veteran well being care

On Tuesday night time, the Senate overwhelmingly permitted the PACT Act, a invoice to increase well being care advantages for veterans who developed sicknesses because of their publicity to burn wells throughout navy service. The 86-11 vote was greeted with cheers from the Senate rostrum.

The invoice is now headed to President Biden’s desk, and the White Home says it appears to be like ahead to signing it. The vote got here after Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer introduced Tuesday afternoon that he and Minority Chief Mitch McConnell had reached a deal.

“It is a great second, particularly for all of the individuals who have made this occur and who’re watching,” Schumer mentioned after the vote. “Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks.”

Watching the ultimate vote from the Senate gallery Tuesday night time, the comic Jon Stewart, a vocal supporter of the invoice and veterans, may very well be seen with tears in his eyes. Stewart has been on Capitol Hill rallying assist for the invoice and lobbying senators to go it.

“I am unsure I’ve ever seen a scenario the place individuals who have already given a lot have needed to battle so exhausting to obtain so little,” he mentioned after the vote. “I hope we study a lesson.”

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal despatched a message to the Division of Veterans Affairs Tuesday night time: “I’ve a message for VA: You higher get it proper. You higher get it finished. These veterans have waited too lengthy.”

Biden mentioned after the vote that he hopes to signal the invoice “in order that veterans and their households and caregivers affected by poisonous exposures lastly get the advantages and complete well being care they’ve earned and deserve.”

the laws will increase advantages for roughly 3.5 million veterans uncovered to poisonous combustion pits in the course of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The invoice will take away the burden of proof from veterans searching for look after circumstances associated to combustion pit publicity by assuming that plenty of circumstances, together with numerous varieties of most cancers, are associated to the publicity.

Burn holes are holes within the floor that the US navy dug close to bases in nations that had restricted infrastructure the place troops dumped trash and burned it to eliminate it.

Veterans, navy households and advocates rally exterior the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, August 2, 2022, in assist of a invoice that improves well being care and incapacity advantages for tens of millions of veterans uncovered to burn pits. poisonous.

Mariam Zuhaib/AP

The invoice initially permitted by the Home and Senate in June, however because of a language hiccup, it had to return to the Home and Senate earlier than it may very well be despatched to President Biden’s desk. The laws handed the Home once more however did not advance past a procedural vote within the Senate final week. Twenty-five Republican senators who had voted for the invoice in June voted towards selling the invoice final week, citing an objection about how the laws is paid for.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has since June opposed a provision within the laws’s language that might transfer $400 billion in pre-existing discretionary spending from veterans into obligatory spending. A measure that’s paid for by obligatory spending typically doesn’t must be permitted every year, as discretionary spending does. Toomey argues that this designation change frees up funds that may very well be used for non-veteran-related gadgets.

Mr. Biden has blamed burning pits over the well being issues of his late son, Beau Biden, who died of a mind tumor in 2015. In a 2019 speech to the Service Staff Worldwide Union, then-candidate Biden mentioned that due to his son’s “publicity to scorch pits, for my part, cannot check it but, got here again with stage 4 glioblastoma.”

— Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.

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