Chairman Takano on House Passage of His Honoring our PACT Act
“Once more, the House of Representatives has made clear to America's veterans how much we value their service and sacrifice.”
Miguel R. Salazar (202) 779-1486
Miguel R. Salazar (202) 779-1486
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (HVAC) Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) issued the following statement on the passage of S.3373, the vehicle used to carry his Honoring our PACT Act.
“During his State of the Union address, President Biden said that he would be ready to sign comprehensive toxic exposure legislation into law if it came across his desk. Today, the House of Representatives has come one step closer to that goal by passing my Honoring our PACT Act and honoring the sacred promise we have made with America's veterans by delivering the most comprehensive toxic exposure legislation to date.
“Once more, the House of Representatives has made clear to America's veterans how much we value their service and sacrifice. Veterans don't want more patriotic platitudes and hollow expressions of ‘thank you for your service’ — they want action — and this Congress has delivered. We have held true to our promise, held true to the pact we have made with America’s veterans, held true to our belief that toxic exposure is a cost of war.
"My Honoring our PACT Act addresses the full scope of issues affecting toxic-exposed veterans’ access to VA care and benefits, while reforming VA’s presumptive decision-making process. It will expand VA healthcare eligibility for over 3.5 million veterans exposed to burn pits and establish a presumption of service connection for over 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers. It would eliminate the requirement that veterans prove exposure to toxic substances – a requirement that has often prevented many from accessing the care and benefits they have earned and deserve.
“Today’s action would not have been possible if it were not for the tireless advocacy and selflessness of toxic-exposed veterans who shared their stories and advocated for a comprehensive bill like this. Tragically, many of these voices like Wesley Black, Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, Heath Robinson, and Jennifer Kepner are no longer with us. They devoted what remained of their lives to their fellow veterans, they shared their deeply personal stories showing the world the true consequences of toxic exposure. We are grateful for their stories and indebted to them for their service and advocacy.
"Today would also not have been possible without the support from over 40 Veteran Service Organizations, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, the Biden-Harris Administration, advocates Jon Stewart and John Feal, and the families of veterans who tragically lost their lives as a result of being exposed to toxic substances during their time in service.
“For years, toxic-exposed veterans held up their end of the deal. Today, the House of Representatives upheld our pact to them.”
Background: The House amendment to S. 3373, would rename the bill the “Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022,” remove the text of the underlying bill and insert the text of the Senate-passed version of H.R. 3967 minus one specific clause. That clause, in Title IX, specifically Sec. 902(e), relates to the tax treatment of income derived from contract buyouts of health care professionals as authorized by Sec. 902 of the bill. The Honoring our Promise To Address Comprehensive Toxics Act Of 2021 Or Honoring Our PACT Act is legislation authored by Chairman Mark Takano that will finally treat toxic exposure as a cost of war by addressing the full range of issues impacting toxic-exposed veterans including access to earned benefits and healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Chairman Takano’s legislation passed the House earlier this year with a bipartisan vote of 256-174 and has the strong support of 42 Veterans Service Organizations, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, the Biden-Harris Administration, and advocates Jon Stewart and John Feal. The Senate passed an amended version of the bill with a vote of 84-14.
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