WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Paul D. Tonkovoted last night to pass the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, also called the Honoring our PACT Act. The Honoring our PACT Act—advanced out of the House with a strong bipartisan vote of 342-88—will finally treat exposure to toxic substances as a cost of war by addressing the full range of issues impacting toxic-exposed veterans, including access to earned benefits and healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“I was thrilled to cast my vote to finally give toxic-exposed veterans the support they deserve,” Congressman Tonko said. “This is comprehensive legislation that will ensure veterans living with the effects of toxic exposure—including exposure to burn pits and Agent Orange—can access the care and benefits they’ve earned. I’m also proud that this legislation includes provisions from my Fort McClellan Health Registry Act that recognize and seek to address the lasting health impacts related to service at that base, something veterans across my district have been demanding for decades. We must fulfill our obligation to those who have bravely served our country. With this vote, I am proud to join my colleagues in making sure our country can pay for the true cost of war. Toxic-exposed veterans held up their end of the bargain—it’s time Congress did the same.”
Tonko’s Fort McClellan Health Registry Act provisions advanced in the PACT Act require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to include a study of the health trends of veterans who served at Fort McClellan. In the past, the Department of Veterans Affairs has not accepted any link between adverse health effects and service at Fort McClellan despite acknowledging that toxic substances were present at the base.