Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Senate’s continued progress towards passing the Honoring Our PACT Act, legislation to help veterans exposed to burn pits during military service. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
Today the Senate will continue consideration of the Honoring our PACT Act, the most ambitious and important expansion of veteran health care benefits that we have seen in decades.
Yesterday, we invoked cloture on the substitute amendment to the PACT act with a very strong bipartisan vote of 78-17. Seventy-eight votes: a clear indication that both sides want this bill passed through the Senate. There is no reason to delay that outcome.
Today we will continue working with our Republicans colleagues to see if we can speed up consideration of this legislation. With Republican cooperation, we could be done with the PACT Act as soon as tomorrow.
We need to pass the PACT Act ASAP because our veterans have waited long enough for their health care benefits to treat complications from toxic exposure. Over the last two decades, an estimated 3.5 million service members were exposed to dangerous chemicals while in the line of duty while risking our lives for us. Burn pits were a common method of eliminating all sorts of waste throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, from everyday trash to hazardous and poisonous materials.
After returning home, many veterans developed terrible diseases because of their exposure to these toxic waste dumps, but even so nearly 80% of all disability claims related burn pits have been denied by the Veterans’ Administration.
What an indignity. What an injustice. No veteran should ever have to carry the burden of treating complications from toxic exposure alone, and we can change that with this bill.
There is every reason in the world to get the PACT Act done quickly: both parties want it, our veterans deserve it, and the time is long past for us to make a change at the VA.