Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart speaks about the PACT Act to benefit military toxic exposure victims during a press event on Capitol Hill on March 29, 2022. (Mariam Zuhaib/AP)
The Senate is expected to take up major military toxic exposure legislation in coming days after House lawmakers passed corrections to the measure last week.
The bill — the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (or PACT Act) — was expected to be sent to the White House before the July 4 holiday, but was stalled by technical problems with the measure. The House addressed those in a bipartisan vote last Wednesday. Advocates are hopeful that the Senate can move quickly on the issue this week.
The legislation would cost almost $280 billion over the next 10 years and provide new medical and disability benefits for as many as one in every five veterans living in America today. Both veterans groups and lawmakers have called it possibly the most comprehensive effort ever to address toxic exposure issues in the military.
The PACT Act won’t be the only big veterans news on Capitol Hill this week, however. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee members are expected to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs ongoing and controversial electronic medical records modernization project during a hearing on Wednesday.
Tuesday, July 19
House Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — 2118 Rayburn Readiness programs
Service officials will testify on military readiness initiatives and the National Defense Strategy.
House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn Russian-Ukraine War
Department of Commerce officials will testify on economic penalties for Russia and support for Ukraine.
Senate Homeland Security — 10 a.m. — 342 Dirksen Weapons of mass destruction
Department of Homeland Security officials will testify on the potential threat of weapons of mass destruction to America.
Senate Judiciary Committee — 10 a.m. — 226 Dirksen Russian sanctions
Federal officials will testify on efforts to aid Ukraine through forfeiture of Russian oligarchs’ assets.
House Veterans' Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210 Pending legislation
The committee will mark up 17 pending bills.
Senate Foreign Relations — 2:30 p.m. — Capitol S116 Pending business
The committee will consider several pending nominations and bills.
Wednesday, July 20
House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn Russian war crimes
Outside experts will testify on evidence of war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.
Senate Foreign Relations —10 a.m. — 419 Dirksen Global food security
State Department officials will testify on U.S. efforts to combat hunger worldwide.
House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn UN World Food Program
Officials will testify on successes and challenges of the UN World Food Program.
House Veterans' Affairs — 1 p.m. — Visitors Center H210 Veteran education
VA officials will testify on education improvements put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn Russia in Latin America
Outside experts will testify on Russian influence in Latin America and potential problems that it brings for western nations.
Senate Veterans' Affairs — 3 p.m. — 418 Russell VA electronic health records
VA officials will testify on the status of the department’s election medical records modernization program.
Thursday, July 21
House Foreign Affairs — 9:30 a.m. — online hearing Africa
Outside experts will testify on U.S. influence in Africa.
Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen Nominations
The committee will consider the nominations of Lt. Gen. Bryan Fenton to be head of U.S. Special Operations Command and Lt, Gen. Michael Langley to be head of U.S. Africa Command.
Senate Homeland Security — 10:15 a.m. — 342 Dirksen Nominations
The committee will consider the nomination of David Pekoske to be administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.