April 23, 2021

Chairman Takano Applauds Introduction of 2 New Bills to Address Exposure to PFAS, Radioactive Compounds, & Other Toxins

Bills from Reps. Pappas & Tonko align with Committee efforts to address toxic exposure

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Jenni Geurink | 202-819-4684

WASHINGTON, D.C — Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) applauded the introduction of two new bills that align with the Committee’s efforts to comprehensively grant benefits and presumptions for all veterans exposed to toxic substances—regardless of where or when they served. Rep. Chris Pappas’ (D-NH) introduced the bipartisan PFAS Registry Act, which would direct VA to create a national database for servicemembers and veterans with health concerns due to potential exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at U.S. military bases. Additionally, this week Rep. Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) introduced the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act to establish a health registry tracking links between service at Fort McClellan in Alabama and the severe life-long health problems plaguing many of the veterans who served there. Both of these bills build on the Committee’s work to recognize toxic exposure as a cost of war.


“I made addressing toxic exposure a top priority this Congress because we can’t let decades go by before we grant care and benefits to all veterans who were exposed to toxic substances—including those exposed here at home,” said Chairman Takano. “Whether it’s PFAS exposure at military bases across the country or exposure to radioactive compounds and other toxins at Fort McClellan in Alabama, it is our responsibility to ensure these veterans have access to the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve. That’s why I’m proud to support these two new bills from Rep. Pappas and Rep. Tonko as the Committee works on legislative solutions to comprehensively address toxic exposure.” 


“It is our solemn obligation to support the brave men and women who serve our country, and it is long past time we keep them safe from the widespread PFAS contamination across our military bases,'' said Congressman Pappas. “As we work to clean up contaminants, I am proud to introduce the PFAS Registry Act which will give military service members and veterans access to health information, research updates, and other resources they need. I will continue to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to safeguard our constituents and communities from the harmful effects of PFAS.”


“The stories I have heard from our veterans who served at Fort McClellan are heartbreakingly painful,” saidCongressman Tonko. “These selfless patriots put their lives on the line to protect us, our families and our nation. We should never have turned a blind eye to the devastating price they are paying for that service. The fact that they are still being denied VA care for these conditions is a travesty and a betrayal of their loyalty and sacrifice. My Fort McClellan Health Registry Act would be a breakthrough for them, taking that vital first step of establishing clear links between toxic exposure during their service there and the health issues that have plagued them ever since. It’s long past time that we deliver on the promises we made for their service, and let these heroes know they are not, and will not be, forgotten.”


Background: Earlier this year, Chairman Takano announced that he will prioritize toxic exposure during the 117th Congress and committed to moving comprehensive legislation forward. As part of this effort, the Committee has worked to educate about the effects of toxic exposure and has spoken to several veterans living with the effects of toxic exposure like MSgt. Brian Graves & Lt. Col. (Ret.) Nate Brauner. Last week, Chairman Takano praised three new bills from Rep. TroneRep. Cartwright, and Rep. Hayes that would reform VA’s presumptive decision-making process and provide benefits for veterans exposed to toxins in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia and those that responded to the nuclear disaster in Palomares, Spain. Additionally, earlier this month new bills were introduced by Rep. Luria, Rep. Slotkin, and Dr. Ruiz to help veterans exposed to toxic substances access VA care and benefits. All of these efforts build off the monumental passage of Chairman Takano’s Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act last Congress that finally granted benefits to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during their service off the coast of Vietnam.