DURING the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers were exposed to toxic burn pits that have been shown to cause significant respiratory damage.
As a result, members of Congress have attempted to pass new legislation that would offer more benefits to those affected, but the Senate failed.
What is the Veteran’s Burn Pit Bill?
In June 2022, the Senate passed the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act to help veterans who were exposed to toxic hazards while serving abroad.
In addition to providing more financial assistance, the bill expanded eligibility for VA healthcare.
“This is a tremendous victory for veterans, soldiers and their families,” Matthew “Fritz” Mihelcic, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in a statement at the time.
“I commend every senator who voted for those who have borne the burden of toxic exposure, for military families struggling to care for them, and for militaries who will face toxic exposure in the future.”
After voting 84-14, the bill was sent back to the House of Representatives for a re-vote before going to Joe Biden’s desk.
However, in a shocking decision, the Senate failed to pass the bill a second time.
According to CBS News, 25 Republican senators reversed their support from the original vote, sparking outrage among veterans and their families.
What did people say about the Senate decision?
After it became known that the law had not passed, Americans across the country protested the Senate’s decision.
Among those who expressed their outrage was Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who said in a news conference he had never seen anything like it.
“I’ve never seen anything happen like what happened yesterday and what makes it worse and makes it so much more difficult that yesterday we essentially took advantage of the people affected by the war – who we sent to war,” Tester said on CBS News.
US Army veteran Aleks Morosky of the Wounded Warrior Project added: “We make a promise to people serving in the military that we will support them if they are wounded.
“Today’s passage of the PACT Act would have finally delivered on that promise for veterans with toxic wounds. But instead, that promise is still being broken.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer also addressed the decision in a news conference, where he said Democrats “would give our Republican friends another opportunity” to vote on the bill, according to The Hill.
Does President Joe Biden Support the Burn Pit Act?
Since drafting the bill, Biden has shown his support and urged Congress to take action on the deadly pits.
He previously stated that he believes they played a role in the death of his son Beau Biden, who died in 2015 after a battle with brain cancer.
“He spent a year in Iraq and came back decorated, conspicuous service medal, bronze war zone star, etc.,” Biden told the Independent in 2019.
“And because he was exposed to burn pits, I don’t think I can prove it yet, he came back with stage 4 glioblastoma.”
He added, “Eighteen months he lived and knew he was going to die.”
At the time of this writing, Biden has not addressed the Senate’s recent decision on the matter.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5884152/what-veterans-burn-pit-bill/ What is the Veteran’s Burn Pit Bill?