The United States Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill on Aug. 2 to expand healthcare benefits for millions of veterans who developed illnesses from exposure to toxic burn pits during their military service.
In a final vote of 86 to 11, the Senate approved the Honoring our PACT Act after more than two dozen Republicans had temporarily blocked it from advancing last week as they sought to add cost-controlling amendment votes to the package.
The vote came after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had reached an agreement.
The legislation widely expands healthcare resources and benefits to an estimated 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The legislation adds conditions related to burn pit and toxic exposure to the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) list of illnesses, removing the burden of proof from veterans seeking care for conditions related to burn pit exposure.
The bill now heads to U.S. President Joe Biden for his signature to become law.
Biden called the legislation “the biggest expansion of benefits for service-connected health issues in 30 years and the largest single bill ever to comprehensively address exposure to burn pits.”
“I look forward to signing this bill, so that veterans and their families and caregivers impacted by toxic exposures finally get the benefits and comprehensive health care they earned and deserve,” Biden further said.”
In a statement, VA said that they will implement the legislation “quickly and effectively” once it becomes law.
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