Shaheen Votes in Favor of Historic Veterans Legislation, Sends it to President’s Desk
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement after voting in favor of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 (the PACT Act). The bipartisan bill passed the Senate with a vote of 86 to 11. The House of Representatives previously approved the legislation, which will now be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“This bipartisan legislation puts veterans first by expanding access to services they need to heal and recover, while also making urgently needed improvements to address bureaucratic challenges within the claims process,” said Shaheen. “Especially with regard to the serious health ailments associated with toxic exposure, this legislation is necessary for our post-9/11 veterans who face different service-related health concerns than the generations before them. I’m glad to see Congress get this done and look forward to the President signing it into law.”
Specifically, the PACT Act will expand health care for Post-9/11 combat veterans, create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure, expand the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) list of service presumptions and improve resources to support the VA’s claims processing. A one-pager on the bill is available here.
As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Shaheen has long championed and supported measures to help veterans who’ve been exposed to toxic or hazardous materials. In the fiscal year (FY) 2020 defense bill that was signed into law, Shaheen supported a provision addressing the health evaluations of service members who have been exposed to open burn pits or toxic airborne chemicals. Open burn bits were used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the FY2021 NDAA that became law, Shaheen also supported an amendment offered by Senator Tester (D-MT) that would require the VA to provide benefits for veterans suffering from four diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The amendment was based on standalone legislation authored by Senator Tester, which Senator Shaheen cosponsored. Shaheen sponsored bipartisan legislation, the PFAS Registry Act, which would create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems possibly due to contamination from PFAS. In addition, Shaheen cosponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which was signed into law in 2019 and created a permanent legislative fix to help ensure “Blue Water” Navy veterans get the disability and health care benefits they deserve as a result of exposure to Agent Orange.