Lawmakers in the Senate are ready to better compensate veterans who have suffered toxic exposures during their time in service.
They have indicated they are prepared to spend nearly $300 billion for veterans with a package that will benefit up to one in every five veterans in America.
Before the package can be sent to the president to be signed into law, it will have to be voted on by the House again.
But lawmakers on the left have already expressed support for the changes, leading people to think that the legislation could be finalized by the July 4 recess.
More details from Roll Call:
The bill would offer new health care and tax-free disability benefits as high as $3,332 a month to as many as 3.5 million veterans at a cost the Congressional Budget Office has pegged at $278.5 billion over 10 years.
Under the legislation, crafted by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., and ranking member Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the Veterans Affairs Department would consider a veteran with any of 23 conditions — as varied as brain cancer and hypertension — who was deployed to a combat zone during the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan automatically eligible for care at government cost.
By contrast, under current law, the veteran must demonstrate that his or her illness was the result of military service in order to qualify for benefits.
Nobody can deny that countless vets have experienced illnesses as a result of exposure to chemicals during their time in service.
It’s good to see lawmakers finally begin taking steps to address the issues that many of our vets have had inflicted upon them.
Also included in the legislation is an expansion of veterans benefits for the following groups:
- Vets who were exposed to radiation during the Cold War
- Vets who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War