Comedian and veterans advocate Jon Stewart speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill, July 28, 2022, after a toxic exposure bill suffered an unexpected defeat in a Senate procedural vote. ( photo by Rebecca Kheel)

Last Updated on August 8, 2022 by BVN


In a 86-11 vote, the Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to expand healthcare access to veterans exposed to toxic gases from burn pits while serving the country.

The PACT Act will become the biggest expansion of the Veteran Affairs health care in decades when President Joe Biden signs it to law. Veterans will no longer have to prove that their illnesses were caused by exposure to toxic gases to benefit from VA coverage.

“The Bill removes the burden experienced by veterans in getting treatment related to toxic exposure,” Terri Tanielian, the Special Assistant to the President for Veterans Affairs, told Black Voice News. “It expands healthcare resources to those exposed to burn pits.”

The bill, which had amassed bipartisan support across the two houses, easily passed on Tuesday after Republicans blocked it from advancing last week, seeking to add cost-controlling amendment votes to the package. 

The bill had previously sailed through the Senate with a 84-14 vote in June, but had to undergo another vote last week owing to a technical error. But it met resistance from at least two dozen Republicans, sparking protests from veterans and veterans groups on the steps of the Capitol.

When it was reintroduced on Tuesday, it passed with a final vote of 86-11.

To address concerns about level of and access to care and how the Path Act might impact wait times, Ms Tanielian said the Veterans Affairs will seek to expand the list of healthcare providers.  

California is home to more than 1.5 million veterans.