The PACT Act finally passed through the Senate. It had its ups and downs.
But eventually, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee got this critical act through the chamber Tuesday night, off the Senate floor, and onto the desk of President Joe Biden.
This bill had been stuck in a bit of a stalemate, and disability benefits for the veterans exposed to burn pits were undoubtedly up in the air. When military family members heard the bill was stalled, they realized that health care benefits for these vets also weighed in the balance.
By a vote of 86 to 11, a decisive and bipartisan win, the Tuesday night vote in the Senate was initially held up by minority leader Mitch McConnell and Republican senators as well as three Republican amendments, which ultimately led family members of these veterans to be frustrated and saddened. Even comedian and activist Jon Stewart criticized the Republican party for holding up the bill. But he was not the only one who harshly criticized Republicans for holding up this bill. Learn how to set up a claim here.
The legislation passed the Senate earlier in a vote back in June, but it required a technical fix, so it had to go through the process again. When that happened, toxic exposed veterans were put at risk as Republicans attempted to change language in the bill, slowing it down.
This delay caused outrage among veteran groups, and GOP senators were put into a tough spot since they were slowing down help for America’s veterans.
During this wait, which blocked the swift passage of the act, veterans and their families have been camping out in front of the Capitol building, vowing to stay until the PACT act is passed. They remained as the Senate began voting. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke to this group and said,
“You can go home knowing the good and great thing you have done and accomplished for the United States of America.”
The newest Senate vote helps to expand VA health care for millions of combat veterans who served around burn pits and received toxic exposure. It also forces the VA to presume that certain types of cancer and respiratory illnesses were related to their military service. This allows vets to get more disability payments to compensate for these injuries without providing proof. Before this act, the VA would force veterans to have indisputable proof that the pits caused these conditions.
Approximately 70% of the veterans and their families who have tried to obtain disability payments for these conditions were previously denied. These burn pits were used to dispose of everything from cans, plastic, and chemicals to human and medical waste.
Hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans will benefit from this bill passing. In addition to respiratory illnesses, it will also cover conditions like high blood pressure and conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure. It is estimated that approximately 600,000 of the 1.6 million Vietnam veterans still living will be eligible for more compensation due to this exposure.
Additionally, any veterans with past assumed exposure to Agent Orange after serving in Cambodia, Guam, Laos, Thailand, Johnston Atoll, and American Samoa are also covered under this bill. Once the bill crosses President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed, it is projected to add approximately $277 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade.
Michael Ehline and the Ehline Law Firm stands by veterans and helps them to block the legal barriers that stop bills like this from getting final passage. We hope you are glad the Senate passes health care provisions like this, but we need to immediately open up Camp Pendleton and El Toro’s toxic water exposure claims. Give our firm a call today at (833) LETS – SUE.