President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed into law the PACT Act, which is aimed at expanding health benefits for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars that were exposed to toxic burn pits.

“The PACT Act is the least we can do for the countless men and women, many of whom may be in this room for all I know, who suffered toxic exposure while serving their country,” Biden said before signing the bill. “This law is long overdue, but we finally got it done together.”

The new law will benefit around 3.5 million veterans whose exposure to burn pits has resulted in suffering, including from cancer and terminal illnesses. It also had a personal significance to the President as he believes there may have been a connection between burn pit exposure and the brain cancer that took the life of his son Beau Biden, who served in Iraq, at just 46 years old.

“To the veterans and their families here today and all around the country, we can never fully thank you for your service and your sacrifice. And that’s not hyperbole, that’s a literal fact,” Biden added. “We owe you. You’re the backbone. You’re the steel. You’re the very fiber that makes this country what it is.”


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The bill made it to the President’s desk after the House passed the measure last month. Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) then stalled the bill over language that allows money to be moved from discretionary to mandatory spending, which freed $400 billion under the caps, allowing the money to go toward anything, not necessarily helping veterans.

His efforts failed and the bill was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in a 86-11 vote.

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