DURING the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers were exposed to poisonous combustion sources, which have been shown to cause significant damage to respiratory systems.
As a result, members of Congress sought to pass a new bill that would provide more benefits to those exposed, but it did not pass the Senate.
What is the Veterans Fire 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 eligibility for VA health care.
“This is a huge victory for veterans, service members and their families,” National Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Matthew “Fritz” Mihelcic said in a statement at the time.
“I commend all senators who voted for those who have borne the brunt of toxic exposure, the military families struggling to care for them, and the service men and women who will face a toxic exposure in the future.”
Following the 84-14 vote, the bill returned to the House of Representatives for another 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According to CBS News, 25 Republican senators rescinded their support for the initial vote, sparking outrage among veterans and their families.
What did people say about the Senate decision?
After it was announced that the bill had not passed, Americans across the country protested the Senate’s decision.
Among those who expressed outrage was Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who told a press conference he had never seen anything like it before.
“I’ve never seen anything that happened like what happened yesterday and what makes it worse and makes it even more difficult is that we basically took benefits away from people yesterday who were affected by war – that we sent to war,” Tester said, via CBS News.
US Army veteran Aleks Morosky of the Wounded Warrior Project added, “We promise people who serve in the military that we will support them if they are injured.
“Passing the PACT Act today would have finally fulfilled that promise for veterans with toxic injuries. But instead, that promise is still broken.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer also addressed the decision at a press conference, where he said Democrats would “give our Republican friends another opportunity” to vote on the bill. law, according to The Hill.
Does President Joe Biden support the burn pit bill?
Since the bill’s inception, Biden has shown his support and urged Congress to take action against the death pits.
He had previously said he believed they had a hand in the death of his son, Beau Biden, who died in 2015 after a battle with brain cancer.
“He spent a year in Iraq and came back decorated, distinguished service medal honor, bronze star in the war zone, etc.,” Biden said in 2019, via Independent.
“And because of exposure to burn sites, in my opinion I can’t prove it yet, he came back with stage 4 glioblastoma.”
He added: “He lived eighteen months, knowing he was going to die.”
As of this writing, Biden has not addressed the latest Senate decision on the matter.