Published by Nico Portuondo
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
The House passed legislation today to deliver comprehensive health care and benefits to veterans affected by toxic exposure, after President Biden pressed Congress during his State of the Union address to take action on the issue.
The “Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act,” H.R. 3967, would significantly expand the list of “presumptive” conditions for veterans. Those are ailments that the federal government would presume are related to burn pits or other forms of toxic exposure. Veterans affected would be immediately eligible for Veterans Affairs health care and other benefits.
“We passed the most comprehensive legislation to date to treat toxic exposure as a cost of war,” House Veterans Affairs Chair and main sponsor of the bill Mark Takano (D-Calif.) said in a release. “I will not rest until our veterans have a guarantee in statute that their government will take care of them when they come home.”
Takano’s legislation passed through the House 256-174, with every Democrat and 34 Republicans voting in favor.
Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs only lists three relatively minor conditions as presumptive. Takano’s bill would expand the list to 23 conditions, including several rare and debilitating cancers.
Burn pits, huge and constantly burning trash piles during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, have been linked to severe conditions in soldiers who were exposed to their fumes (Greenwire, Nov. 11, 2021)....
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