Senate passes burn pit legislation week after Republicans voted against it

Chuck Schumer, Susan Zeier, John Feal
Posted at 6:59 PM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-02 21:08:02-04

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill to provide health care to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service.

News of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 passing in the Senate comes a week after Republicans blocked the legislation.

Every Democratic Senator and many Republicans voted to pass the bill, with only 11 Senators voting against it.

Missouri Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley along with Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall voted yes.

With the act now on its way to the president's desk, Blunt says he is "glad the Senate approved this legislation with strong, bipartisan support, and I look forward to seeing it signed into law."

Marshall released a statement on his connection to the vote as a fellow veteran.

And as a co-signor of the bill, Moran called the moment "historic" for veterans across the nation.

“Sen. Tester and I made a commitment to get to this point today, and despite procedural hurdles, the Senate took consequential action to provide all generations of veterans their earned health care by passing the SFC Heath Robinson PACT Act," Moran said in a statement. "This legislation will provide comprehensive relief for all generations of veterans, from Agent Orange to the 3.5 million post-9/11 veterans exposed to burn pits during their deployments. Our nation’s veterans and their families will no longer have to fear being turned away from the VA for illnesses related to toxic-exposures.”

Those who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and were exposed to various toxic burn pits say they've suffered from various ailments.

The military used the burn pits to dispose of such things as chemicals, cans, tires, plastics and medical and human waste, the Associated Press reported.

After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer voiced his appreciation to his fellow lawmakers as he announced the final vote for Tuesday.

“Veterans who were exposed to the toxic fumes of burn pits will be treated by the VA like they should have been from the beginning," Schumer said.

Last month, after Republican senators voted against the bill, comedian Jon Stewart voiced his anger loudly in front of the U.S Capitol.

“I’m used to the hypocrisy … but I’m not used to the cruelty,” Stewart said.

The bill will now head to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law.