WASHINGTON – Yesterday evening, the Senate passed the Honoring Our PACT Act with a bipartisan vote of 86-11. Now, veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits will finally be awarded the comprehensive healthcare benefits needed to treat and address the many ailments linked to exposure. This comes a week after 25 Republicans flipped their initial support of the bill. After years of lobbying, organizing, and mobilizing, this historic piece of legislation will grant veterans a better life.
Common Defense Political Director Naveed Shah released the following statement
“The passage of the PACT Act is a huge victory for the 3.5 million veterans who potentially suffered from toxic exposure while serving in America’s forever wars over the past twenty years. This landmark legislation is an enormous step forward for veterans health care, and the largest expansion of veterans benefits since the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Veterans will now have a chance to get the medical care they need for their health conditions related to burn pits and toxic exposure. The PACT Act crucially also addresses exposure to other toxic substances like Agent Orange for Vietnam era veterans. This is a victory for all veterans, won by the organizers, advocates, and supporters who have spent the past ten years fighting for this cause.
“Despite the positive impact and popular support for the PACT Act, Republicans held it hostage at the last minute. In doing so, they made it plain that politicians pay lip service to the military and veterans, only to use our health and wellbeing in their political games. Our members won’t forget who betrayed us when we go to the ballot box in November. These 11 Republican senators actively fought against us, as our fellow veterans fell victim to toxic substances, and we must never forget that.
“We celebrate the passage of this landmark bill, but it should never have been this hard. Since last Thursday, more than a thousand Common Defense members have demanded their senators ‘honor our pact.’ Even as we celebrate this victory, we honor those who succumbed to their wounds waiting for the justice which was so unnecessarily delayed. Their sacrifice has not been in vain.”