The White House pushed back the signing of the high-profile PACT bill by two days after Republicans were heavily criticized for delaying the package over spending concerns.
The White House moved the signing to Wednesday, August 10, after initially saying the bill would be signed on Monday.
President Biden Both bills were signed into law on Friday in a public ceremony held in isolation due to COVID-19, but socially distanced.
Veterans advocates are pushing for passage of the PACT Act, a $278.5 billion bill that would make the federal government responsible for health care and compensation for veterans struggling with the effects of toxic exposures.
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Burn Pit Veteran in Wrongful Dismissal Case
“This bill would expand VA health care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans and their survivors, improve care and increase research related to toxic exposures, and provide VA with important resources to serve veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors,” the White House said.
The President promised to sign the bill As soon as it came to the White House, he said the issue was personal to him and his family.
The military used burn pits to get rid of household waste, but also removed more toxic materials such as paint, metals, plastics, and human waste. Fires that burn toxic chemicals are often near areas where service members live and work overseas.
The Senate passed the Burn Pits Act after a partisan imbroglio
“When they come home, many of the fittest and best-trained fighters we’ve ever had are not the same; headaches, cramps, dizziness, cancer. My son Beau is one of them,” Biden said at a White House event in June.
The Senate last month voted 84-14 in favor of the PACT Act, a majority vote on both counts House and Senate. It represents the most comprehensive veterans health care reform to date for veterans who have become seriously ill from inhaling the toxic fumes that hang over their bases overseas, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The bill went back to the House, which recently passed an amended version, but Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. Approval was delayed by arguing that $400 billion had already been allocated in the discretionary spending budget and should be moved. Mandatory spending is nothing more than a “gimmick” to avoid budgetary spending limits.
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Comedian Jon Stewart disputed the Republican claims Of the bill, he stressed that “not one word” was added to the copy of the bill that passed in an 84-14 Senate vote in June. However, one sentence was omitted when the bill went to the House, but Stewart said it was a provision related to rural VA providers and unrelated to Republicans’ mandatory spending concerns.
“There is not one word added in the copy of the bill that this Senate passed 84-14. So that’s not a matter of opinion. I’m not saying that. It’s a matter of record,” he said. “The delay has been too long. It’s been 15 years. We’ve lost friends along the way and we refuse to lose any more.”
Fox News’ Perry Chiaramonte, Liz Frieden and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.