U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at providing “presumptive U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits to service members who have deployed and have illnesses due to exposure to burn pits and other toxins.”
Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) will introduce the bill, known as the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act, in the House of Representatives.
A press release regarding the introduction of the legislation also stated Rubio, Gillibrand, and Ruiz would hold an April 13, 2021, press conference outside of the U.S. Capitol featuring veterans who have suffered from toxic exposure, survivors of veterans who have passed away due to toxic exposure, Jon Stewart, 9/11 activist John Feal, Burn Pits 360, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans ofAmerica (IAVA), American Legion, and other groups.
“Our war fighters had a job to do, and they did it honorably and without hesitation,” Rubio said. “We will never be able to repay them and their families for their sacrifice, but we can — and we must — take care of them now.”
No more delays. No more studies. It is time to get our veterans the care they need and deserve. pic.twitter.com/QI9QaadOKq
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 26, 2021
“This historic and long overdue legislation will cut through the red tape to ensure veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins while defending our nation will receive the care they need and deserve,” Rubio added. “No more excuses. No more delays. It is time to act.”
Gillibrand offered thanks to those who are cosponsoring the legislation, including her Republican colleagues, while calling out the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its treatment of certain individuals.
“More than three million service members could have been exposed to toxic burn pits, yet the VA continues to deny them care by placing the burden of proof on veterans suffering from rare cancers, lung diseases, and respiratory illnesses,” Gillibrand said.
“The Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act will finally establish a presumptive service connection for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins and streamline the process for obtaining vital VA benefits,” Gillibrand added. “I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation with Senator Rubio, and I thank Congressman Ruiz for his leadership in the House.”