In Texas, Biden Says New Legislation Could Expand Benefits for Burn Pit Victims
WASHINGTON — President Biden on Tuesday called for a broad expansion of medical benefits for veterans
Especially for those who fell ill after inhaling toxic materials from incinerators. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the exposure he believes contributed to cancer. From which his eldest son died. , Bo. For Mr. Biden, the issue is personal and political: Last week, in his State of the Union address, he said he would push for more veterans’ benefits as part of a domestic agenda. That the White House has rethought to emphasize bipartisan civility after a setback. Win the passage of a more extensive social safety net plan last year.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden took a brief break from the raging war in Europe. And traveled with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough to a clinic near Fort Worth. There, the President met with veterans who suffered spinal injuries and began coughing up the black matter. After serving near the pits, as military garbage disposal fires are known.
Speaking to veterans and lawmakers, Mr. Biden said it took years for researchers and lawmakers. To better understand the harmful effects of “Agent Orange,” a defoliant used during the Vietnam War. He likened the situation to what he believed was a backlog in studying. The effects of toxins inhaled by military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and burned garbage and other waste. Burning pits are usually filled with debris such as medical waste and vehicles. Which are then doused with jet fuel and incinerated. Mr. Biden noted that he was a senator to support research into the impact of Agent Orange, and he said young veterans who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, often more than once, deserve the same level of support.
Reporting from Afghanistan
“Today, we are even slower to gather the details of what is happening,” Mr. Biden said during his speech. He pointed out that new diseases, including bladder cancer, are still being added as possible consequences of Agent Orange exposure, some of which have appeared as recently as last year. “Science has told us more decades after the revelation happened,” Mr. Biden said. “In my opinion, this decision has taken too long to reach, and I refuse to repeat the mistake when it comes to veterans of our Iraqi and Afghan wars.”
Evidence of a link between toxic substances in war zones and the subsequent illnesses of veterans has been politically burdensome for lawmakers and prohibitively expensive for many who have become ill. But activists who have fought for benefits for years see Mr. Biden as a champion who long assumed that toxic substances from the burn pits contributed to his son’s brain cancer. The younger Mr. Biden, who died in 2015, served in Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard.
“What better protector can we have than the President of the United States?” This was told in an interview by Susan Zeyer, whose son-in-law died of lung cancer after serving in Iraq. Ms. Zeyer, part of a group of activists who have tried for years to get the government’s attention, has found a sympathetic listener in Mr. Biden.
“Some members of Congress who have been procrastinating on this, I think they may have finally had their sight,” she added.
Three members of Congress — two Democrats and one Republican — traveled with Mr. Biden to Fort Worth. One of them, Rep. Jake Ellzey, a Texas Republican, spoke of his years in the military as the reason for his decision to join Mr. Biden at the event. “There is a lot wrong in our country and in our world today,” Mr. Ellzey said. “These are difficult times. These are terrible times. After all, we don’t put R or D in front of a veteran.”
Mr. Biden pointed to a measure of bipartisan support for the bill,
Walked past the House last week, which would expand disability benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances and classify more health problems as related to exposure to burn pits. Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, also have a bill to improve Department of Veterans Affairs benefits for military personnel exposed to burn pits. “These are bills that will unite the American people,” Mr. Biden said. “Let’s take these bills to my desk so I can sign them immediately.” Opponents of the legislation passed by the House of Representatives say it will only add to the already massive debt owed to others seeking medical care. Rep. Mariannet Miller-Meeks, an Iowa Republican and veteran, called the bill “wildly expensive” and accused its sponsors of bias.
“The people who will bear the brunt of the lackluster performance of House
Democrats today are ordinary Americans who need Congress just to get the job done,” she said in a statement last week after the bill passed the House. Representatives. Both proponents and opponents of the law agree that more research is needed to determine if post-service illnesses in veterans could be linked to burning pits. In the past, the Department of Veterans Affairs has stated that there was little evidence that burn pits contributed to veterans’ illness and continues to advise that many symptoms resolve when exposure is stopped.
But the agency also says researchers are “actively investigating airborne hazards such as incinerators and other military environmental exposures.” according to an agency web page on this topic. Last week, the department announced that it would seek to add nine rare respiratory cancers to the list of service-related disabilities caused by exposure to toxic chemicals in burn pits. Mr. Biden acknowledged that more research is needed on the link between burn pits and later illnesses, but he said he wants the department to support veterans in the meantime. “When the evidence doesn’t provide a clear answer one way or another, the solution we need to support is caring for our veterans as we continue to learn more,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m not waiting; I’m not waiting.”