Senate approves bill to aid veterans exposed to toxic burn pits
The legislation expands access to care through the VA for millions who served near burn pits. It also directs the VA to presume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to burn pits without proof.
The Senate has given final approval to a bill enhancing health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The bill now goes to President Joe Biden's desk, and he says he is looking forward to signing it into law so those veterans "finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they earned and deserve.”
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 86-11.
The Senate had overwhelmingly approved the legislation once before, but the process briefly derailed last week when Republicans made a late attempt to change the bill.
The GOP objections delayed final passage, infuriating veterans groups and advocates, including comedian Jon Stewart.
The legislation expands access to health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs for millions who served near burn pits. It also directs the VA to presume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to burn pit exposure, allowing veterans to obtain disability payments to compensate for their injury without having to prove the illness was a result of their service.
Roughly 70% of disability claims related to burn pit exposure are denied by the VA due to lack of evidence, scientific data and information from the Defense Department.
The military used burn pits to dispose of such things as chemicals, cans, tires, plastics and medical and human waste.