03.03.22

Rep. Mark Takano’s Comprehensive Honoring our PACT Act Passes the House

House Makes Good on its Promise to Care for Toxic-Exposed Veterans

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, made the following statement after his comprehensive bill, H.R. 3967, as amended, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021 or Honoring our PACT Act, passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 256-174. 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 has the strong support  of 42 Veterans Service Organizations, the Biden-Harris Administration, and advocates Jon Stewart and John Feal

“For too long, Congress and VA have been slow to act on toxic exposure—but today, the House took a bipartisan vote to change that and finally make good on our promise to toxic-exposed veterans by passing my Honoring our PACT Act, said Rep. Takano. “After years of diligent input from toxic-exposed veterans, my colleagues, our staff, VA, and VSOs, we passed the most comprehensive legislation to date to treat toxic exposure as a cost of war and ensure that all toxic-exposed veterans can access the care and benefits they’ve earned. This fight is not over, but I will not rest until our veterans have a guarantee in statute that their government will take care of them when they come home—no matter the cost. I’m so grateful for the strong support from Speaker Pelosi, President Biden, and our dedicated VSOs and advocates, and I look forward to working with Senator Tester to pass truly comprehensive legislation through the Senate and send it to the President’s desk. Toxic-exposed veterans do not have time to wait.”

The Honoring our PACT Act will:  

  • Provide Priority Group 6 health care for over 3.5 million toxic-exposed 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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Press Contact

Lana Abbasi (202) 225-2305