WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Comedian Jon Stewart and other veteran advocates were back on Capitol Hill Wednesday, fighting for benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits while they were serving.
There are several different bills in Congress working to address the toxic exposure issue. What lawmakers are trying to do is bring them all together in an effort to get it passed much sooner because, for veterans suffering from exposure, time isn’t on their side.
“Welcome to another exciting episode of when is America gonna start acting like the great country we keep telling ourselves we are?” Stewart said this week.
The comedian has spent the last year urging lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation that ensures veterans who were exposed to toxic substances while serving their country get help when they return.
“Their voices deserve to be heard,” he said.
Stewart and 9/11 first responder John Feal, along with other veterans groups, joined House lawmakers on Wednesday to unveil a bill that would remove the burden of proof from veterans. That would mean they don’t have to prove they were exposed to a toxic substance while serving.
The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs says the bill “makes good on our promise to care for all veterans exposed to toxic substances.”
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is leading one of the other bills moving through the Senate to address the issue, says “we owe it to [veterans] to not repeat the mistake of Agent Orange.”
“We talked about how all these pieces of the puzzle fit together but we’ve also gotta be judicious so that we don’t reach a point where we lose support purely on the financial impact,” Tillis said.