Senate close to passing bill to protect veterans impacted by burn pits
(WENY) -- Veterans who have ailments associated with burn pits are close to getting help. Burn pits were used primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of military equipment by dousing it in jet fuel, and then setting it on fire. This is a common practice of the military, which was used for decades.
Currently, veterans who suspect they might be effected by cancers, respiratory diseases and other health complications from either participating in or being near burn pits or other toxins, have a hard burden of proof to get treatment. Veterans have to provide their own evidence that their current ailment is connected to their time in service. Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act of 2021 requires Veterans Affairs to screen incoming veterans for airborne toxins if they submit a disability compensation claim for a service-connected disability with insufficient evidence
Now, burn pits are illegal, but U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York says they are still being used.
"I've heard from service members that they're still being used. So I need more data on that. We had a hearing on it, um, and we asked and we got mixed answers," Gillibrand said.
The United States Senate held a procedural vote on the bill introduced to the senate by Gillibrand and Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida. It passed the procedural vote with 86 yays and 12 nays.
The bill is set to provide $300 billion in funding over 10 years for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals due to their service. Debates still loom over where to get this money from. Some senators want to make this funding, discretionary funding, meaning that legislators would have to vote each year to keep the money coming.
"People aren't standing against this bill, they're just trying to complicate it right now," said Gillibrand.
The Senate will vote to pass H.R. 3967 in the coming weeks.