March 30, 2022

Chairman Takano’s Comprehensive Honoring our PACT Act Featured at Senate Legislative Hearing

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684) 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif) made the following statement about the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs legislative hearing on his comprehensive bill, H.R. 3967, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 or Honoring our PACT Act. This legislation 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). It passed the House earlier this month with a bipartisan vote and has the strong support of 42 Veterans Service OrganizationsSpeaker PelosiMajority Leader Schumer, the Biden-Harris Administration, and advocates Jon Stewart and John Feal. As Kristina Keenan from VFW stated at yesterday’s hearing, "The Honoring our PACT Act is THE comprehensive solution for toxic exposures."


“For too long, Congress and VA have been slow to act on toxic exposure—but with yesterday’s Senate hearing on my Honoring our PACT Act, I have hope that we can finally make good on our promise to toxic-exposed veterans,” said Chairman Takano. “After years of diligent input from toxic-exposed veterans, my colleagues, our staff, VA, and VSOs, the House passed the most comprehensive legislation to date to treat toxic exposure as a cost of war earlier this month in a bipartisan vote. I’m proud of the House’s work to pass this historic legislation, and I’m pleased that Senator Tester gave my legislation a Senate legislative hearing. I look forward to working with Senator Tester and taking the testimony from yesterday’s Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing into account to make the PACT Act work even better for veterans. Yesterday, Majority Leader Schumer gave his full endorsement to the Honoring our PACT Act and his commitment to bring it to the Senate floor. I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to ensure this vital legislation heads to President Biden’s desk. We cannot let cost or implementation hurdles get in the way of making good on our promise--toxic-exposed veterans do not have time to wait.”


The Honoring our PACT Act will: 


  • Provide health care for over 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans, including Priority Group 6 eligibility for all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, providing them parity with Vietnam and Persian Gulf War veterans
  • Provide extension of combat eligibility for health care from 5 to 10 years with a one-year open enrollment period for those veterans who missed their window
  • Streamline VA’s review process for establishing toxic exposure presumptions 
  • Concede exposure to airborne hazards/burn pits based on locations & dates of service
  • Require medical exams/opinions for certain veterans with toxic exposure disability claims
  • Add hypertension and Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance to the list of presumptions for Agent Orange exposure
  • Establish a presumption of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to burn pits/airborne hazards exposure
  • Create a presumption of exposure to radiation for veterans who participated in cleanup activities in Palomares, Spain, and Enewetak Atoll
  • Allow for a new tort claim for veterans and families exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune
  • Expand agent orange exposure to veterans who served in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia
  • Improve data collection between VA and the Department of Defense
  • Commission studies related to incidents of cancer among veterans, health trends of Post 9/11 veterans and feasibility of providing healthcare to dependents of veterans 
  • Require VA to provide standardized training to improve toxic exposure disability claims adjudications
  • Require VA to conduct outreach and provide resources to toxic exposed veterans

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