DURING America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers were exposed to toxic burn pits, which have been proven to cause significant damage to respiratory systems.
As a result, members of Congress have been looking to pass a new bill that would provide more benefits to those who were exposed, but it failed to pass the Senate.
What is the veterans 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 overseas.
The bill not only provided more financial support but also expanded VA health care eligibility.
“This is an enormous victory for veterans, service members, and their families,” Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Matthew “Fritz” Mihelcic said in a statement at the time.
“I commend every senator who voted in favor for those who have borne the burden of toxic exposure, for the military families struggling to care them, and for the military men and women who will face toxic exposure in the future.”
Following the 84 to 14 vote, the bill was sent back to the House of Representatives for a re-vote before heading 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 amongst veterans and their families.
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What have people said about the Senate’s decision?
After it was announced the bill had not been passed, Americans across the country protested the Senate’s decision.
Among those who voiced their outrage was Democratic Sen. Jon Tester from Montana, who said in a press conference that he has never seen anything like this before.
“I have never seen anything that’s happened like what happened yesterday and what compounds it and makes it that much more difficult is we in essence yesterday took benefits away from the people who have been impacted by war – that we sent off to war,” Tester said, via CBS News.
U.S. Army veteran Aleks Morosky of the Wounded Warrior Project added: “We make a promise to people who serve in the military that we’ll support them if they get wounded.
“Passing the PACT Act today would have finally kept 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 press conference, where he said that 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 bill?
Since the bill was created, Biden has shown his support and has urged Congress to take action against the deadly pits.
He previously stated that he believes they played a role in the death of his son, Beau Biden, who passed away in 2015 after a battle with brain cancer.
“He spent a year in Iraq and came back decorated, conspicuous service medal honor, bronze star in war zone, etcetera,” Biden said in 2019, via Independent.
“And because of exposure to burn pits, in my view, I can’t prove it yet, he came back with stage 4 glioblastoma.”
He added: “Eighteen months he lived, knowing he was going to die.”
At the time of this writing, Biden has not addressed the Senate’s most recent decision on the matter.