Senate Finally Approves Bill to Help Veterans Exposed to Toxic Burn Pits Receive Health Care

Jon Stewart hugs Tim Hauser, an Air Force veteran, at a rally to call on the Senate to pass the Pact Act, which aims to expand health care and benefits to veterans exposed to toxins while serving, outside the Capitol in Washington, Aug., 2, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

After a series of Republican-led delays and emotional protests, the Senate on Tuesday night approved a bill that will help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits — a measure President Joe Biden intends to quickly sign into law.

The Senate began voting on the PACT Act around 5 p.m., with votes on three Republican amendments before a vote on final passage of the bill, which was 86-11. None of the proposed amendments passed.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the floor called the passage a “wonderful moment, especially for all the people who made this happen.”

Just before the legislation passed, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who helped lead the Democratic effort, could be heard saying “I’m so proud” to Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester of Montana. The two embraced in a hug.

“Every so often folks, America lives up to its ideals, and those are days that we savor,” Schumer said at a press conference outside the Senate later Tuesday. He was joined by comedian and activist Jon Stewart, who has become the face of the legislation, and other Senate Democrats as well as GOP Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Allison Pecorin and Gabe Ferris