The PACT Act, legislation supporting veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins is ready for President Joe Biden’s signature following this week’s passage by the U.S. Senate.
“This will affect 3.2 million veterans because many veterans were exposed to toxins during their service,” said Al Labelle with the Wisconsin office of Disabled American Veterans.
Labelle said bill will expand health care benefits for veterans who developed illnesses due to their exposure to a variety of toxins. “Everything from radiation risks, meaning the 50s and 60s when they were doing atomic testing, through Agent Orange, burn pits and PFAS.”
Labelle credits comedian Jon Stewart’s advocacy for the PACT Act, but said it was a team effort supported by more than 70 veterans organizations.
“John Stewart amplified our message, and it was very important what he did. However it was also due to the many phone calls emails meetings that were held with legislators.”
The bill passed the Senate Tuesday night on a vote of 86 to 11. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson voted in favor.
Last week, Johnson and fellow Republicans held up passage of the bill. Republicans said their opposition was tied to an argument over which portion of the federal budget would pay for $280 billion worth of funds for veteran health programs.