WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a significant expansion of health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The vote assures the measure will soon go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The Senate will have to vote again because of a technical fix the House made to the bill, but the essence of the bill is the same as the one senators overwhelmingly passed last month.
The measure expands access to health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs and will make it easier for many veterans to get disability payments.
“Think of the injustice of that,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the denial rate.
“Never again should veterans be made to suffer the indignity of fighting their own government,” added Rep. Mark Takano, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
The bill is projected to increase federal spending by about $283 billion over 10 years and does not include offsetting spending cuts or tax increases to help pay for it. An earlier version the House approved in March cost more than $320 billion over 10 years, but senators trimmed some of the costs early on by phasing in certain benefit enhancements.