Senate passes veterans health bill after Republicans cave to pressure

The Senate passed legislation expanding lifesaving health care benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans exposed to toxic burn pits following days of protests.

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation expanding lifesaving health care benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

The 86-11 vote came after Republicans agreed to lift their blockade of the popular bill, caving to pressure from more than 60 veterans groups — and comedian Jon Stewart — who had railed against Republicans for days outside the Capitol.

Many of the veterans who had camped on the Senate steps, braving heat, humidity and thunderstorms, watched the vote from the gallery in the Senate chamber. The bill has already cleared the House and now heads to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature.

Comedian and activist Jon Stewart embraces Susan Zeier, mother-in-law of the late Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson, before the Senate vote on the PACT Act outside the Capitol on Aug. 2, 2022.Drew Angerer / Getty ImagesIt's "very emotional. [These are] tears of joy and relief," said Jen Burch, 35, a retired Air Force staff sergeant who suffers from numerous ailments she believes were caused by exposure to burn pits and open sewage ponds in Afghanistan.

"This is our night to celebrate, but we have more work to do to continue advocating and to ensure the [Department of Veterans Affairs] does their job in implementing this legislation for our veterans."

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senate-passes-veterans-health-bill-republicans-cave-pressure-rcna41215


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