Aug 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

President Biden signs bill to help veterans exposed to burn pits

President Joe Biden speaks before signing the PACT Act.

President Biden speaks before signing the PACT Act. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden signed the PACT Act into law Wednesday, expanding health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

Driving the news: The bipartisan bill is the biggest expansion to veterans' health care and benefits in the last three decades, the White House said.

Details: The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act makes it easier for veterans exposed to burn pits from the Sept. 11 attacks to gain health care, the White House said.

  • Burn pits were considered a common method to eliminate waste for military sites during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • “My son Beau was one of them,” Biden said before signing the bill.
  • Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015. He served in the military and Biden has said he believes there is a connection between his son's work on the burn pits and the illness that took his life, per CNN.
  • Biden said Wednesday that veterans who visited burn pits came home from war with headaches, numbness, dizziness and cancer, among other symptoms.
  • The new law is expected to help about 3.5 million veterans who have been exposed to burn pits since 9/11.
  • Comedian Jon Stewart has been advocating for the bill's passage.

What they're saying: "This is the most significant law our nation has ever passed," Biden said Wednesday before signing the bill.

  • "This new law matters," Biden said. "It matters a lot. It matters a great deal because these conditions have already taken such a toll on so many veterans and their families."
  • He also praised Stewart during his speech Wednesday, saying, "We owe you big."

Flashback: Biden said in his State of the Union address that Congress must work on a bill that would address toxic exposures that hurt veterans.

Go deeper ... Jon Stewart: Congress giving vets sickened by toxic burn pits the "cold shoulder"

Go deeper