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Rubio Calls VA Burn Pit Actions a Half Measure

Apr 25, 2022 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement calling the establishment of a presumptive service connection for nine rare respiratory cancers by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) long overdue and woefully insufficient. 
“You don’t need to be a scientist to know that living next to toxic, open-air burn pits is bad for your health — it’s common sense,” Rubio said. “The VA’s decision is long overdue, but countless veterans will remain without the care they deserve. Our nation’s veterans are suffering from debilitating illnesses and dying because they cannot get the care they earned. No more half measures. No more bureaucratic studies. No more excuses. The Senate needs to pass legislation with comprehensive presumptive benefits for our veterans, now.”
The VA’s announcement comes more than a year after Rubio and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act (S. 952), which would streamline the process for veterans to obtain VA benefits for injuries from burn pits and other toxic exposures by removing the burden of proof from the veteran.
Unlike the piecemeal approach taken by the VA, Rubio’s bill would cover a wide range of cancers and respiratory illnesses, including: asthma that was diagnosed after service, head cancer of any type, neck cancer of any type, respiratory cancer of any type, gastrointestinal cancer of any type, reproductive cancer of any type, lymphoma cancer of any type, lymphomatic cancer of any type, kidney cancer, brain cancer, melanoma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, constrictive or obliterative bronchiolitis, emphysema, granulomatous disease, interstitial lung disease, pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis, and sarcoidosis.
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar measure, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (H.R. 3967). Rubio praised the Honoring our PACT Act for including a presumption of service connection and urged the Senate to pass the legislation without delay.