Honoring our PACT Act of 2022

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Honoring our PACT Act of 2022
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to improve health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances, and for other purposes.
Acronyms (colloquial)PACT
Enacted bythe 117th United States Congress
EffectiveAugust 10, 2022
Number of co-sponsors100
Public lawPub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 117–168 (text) (PDF)
Statutes at Large136 Stat. 1759
Legislative history

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, known as the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, is an Act of Congress that spends $797 billion[1] to significantly improve healthcare access and funding for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during military service.

The act was first introduced on June 17, 2021, by Representative Mark Takano (D-CA). The House of Representatives passed the bill by 256–174 on March 3, 2022,[2][3] and passed the Senate by 84–14 on June 16, 2022.[4][5][6] Due to a previously unnoticed technical constitutional issue with the bill, a revised version needed to pass the Senate again, but failed a cloture vote 55–42 on July 27, 2022, after 25 Republicans flipped their votes.[7][8] Republicans cited a preexisting provision that made previously approved veterans' funding mandatory rather than discretionary as justification for their vote changes, while claiming the provision would increase spending authority unrelated to burn pits.[8][9][10]

The failed cloture vote occurred immediately after the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act passed the Senate, after which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced their agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The act would be approved through reconciliation, which would require only 50 votes plus Vice President Harris as the tie-breaking vote as Senate President. The failed cloture vote on the veterans' bill was widely seen from Democrats and veterans as retaliation for agreeing on the inflation bill.[11]

Dozens of veterans, many of whom were exposed to burn pits themselves, continuously camped outside the United States Capitol in protest for five days.[12] The bill passed the Senate by 86–11 on August 2, 2022, amid pressure from the veteran groups and other activists. There was no change in the funding mechanism or of the bill's text between the first and the second Senate vote.[13][14][11] On August 10, 2022, it was signed into law by President Joe Biden.[15]


President Joe Biden signing the bill into law in the East Room of the White House on August 10, 2022

Burn pits were used as a waste disposal method by the United States Armed Forces during the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War, but have since been terminated due to the toxic fumes that posed health risks to nearby soldiers.[16]

From 2007 to 2020, the VA denied 78% of disability claims by veterans that were alleged to have been caused by burn pits. The Honoring our PACT Act removes the requirement that veterans prove that burn pits caused their illness and gives retroactive pay to veterans who did not receive care for their illnesses after claiming disability caused by burn pits. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of the Act would be $300 billion from 2022 to 2032.[17]

President Joe Biden has said he believes the brain cancer experienced by his son, Beau Biden, was a result of his exposure to burn pits during the Kosovo and Iraq Wars (Beau Biden died of that cancer in 2015).[18]

Camp LeJeune Justice Act of 2022[edit]

Section 804 of the PACT Act contains a new federal cause of action for those exposed to and injured by the toxins in the water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.[19] Until this became law, only exposed veterans had the possibility of compensation (as a VA disability benefit) because the federal courts cut off the right to sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act in MDL-2218.[20][21][22][23]

Legislative history[edit]

Congress Short title Bill number(s) Date introduced Sponsor(s) # of cosponsors Latest status
117th United States Congress Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 H.R.3967 June 17, 2021 Mark Takano (D-CA) 100 Passed Senate with an amendment
S.3373 December 9, 2021 Tim Kaine (D-VA) 2 Enacted


  1. ^ "Legislation Enacted in the Second Session of the 117th Congress That Affects Mandatory Spending or Revenues | Congressional Budget Office". www.cbo.gov. 2023-03-13. Retrieved 2023-06-12.
  2. ^ Takano, Mark (2022-03-01). "Actions - H.R.3967 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Honoring our PACT Act of 2021". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  3. ^ Kheel, Rebecca (2022-03-03). "Sweeping Toxic Exposure Bill Passed by House". Military.com. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  4. ^ "Senate passes amended version of PACT act, providing health care benefits to veterans". WWAYTV3. 2022-06-16. Retrieved 2022-06-17.
  5. ^ "Senators celebrate passage of Honoring our Pact Act". WAVY.com. 2022-06-16. Retrieved 2022-06-17.
  6. ^ "Senate passes the PACT Act to provide more help to veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2022-06-17.
  7. ^ John, Basil (28 July 2022). "Democrats, activists frustrated as 25 Republicans flip vote for burn pits bill, stalling legislation". WAVY.com.
  8. ^ a b DeBonis, Mike. "Senate Republicans block bill to help veterans exposed to burn pits". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  9. ^ Lerman, David (July 27, 2022). "Veterans toxic exposure bill delayed as cloture attempt rejected". Rollcall. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  10. ^ Staff (July 30, 2022). "Senator Sherrod Brown pushes for passage of PACT Act following reversal of Republican support". Scioto Valley Guardian. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  11. ^ a b "Senate passes veterans health bill after Republicans cave in to pressure". NBC News. Retrieved 2022-08-07.
  12. ^ Kime, Patricia (2022-08-01). "Veterans Protest at US Capitol as Pressure Mounts on Senate Republicans over Toxic Exposures Bill". Military.com. Retrieved 2022-08-07.
  13. ^ III, Leo Shane (2022-08-04). "Now that PACT Act has passed, how soon will veterans see their benefits?". Military Times. Retrieved 2022-08-07.
  14. ^ Kaine, Tim (2022-08-03). "Actions - S.3373 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Honoring our PACT Act of 2022". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2022-08-07.
  15. ^ "Biden signs 'burn pits' help for vets; a personal win, too". AP NEWS. 2022-08-10. Retrieved 2022-08-10.
  16. ^ "Congressman Welch backs passage of Honoring Our Pact Act". MSN. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  17. ^ Thompson, Alex; Tani, Max. "The burn pit book that hooked Biden". POLITICO. Retrieved 2022-03-09.
  18. ^ Viser, Matt (November 28, 2021). "Biden wonders publicly whether burn pits caused his son's death. Activists want him to do more on the issue". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  19. ^ "PACT Act brings long-awaited justice for Camp Lejeune victims". spectrumlocalnews.com. Retrieved 2022-08-11.
  20. ^ "Navy To Deny All Claims For NC Base Water Contamination - Law360". www.law360.com. Retrieved 2022-08-11.
  21. ^ "In Re Camp Lejeune, North Carolina Water Contamination Litigation". www.law360.com. Retrieved 2022-08-11.
  22. ^ "Supreme Court Won't Hear Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Suits - Law360". www.law360.com. Retrieved 2022-08-11.
  23. ^ "Circuit Splits: A Hidden Trap In 'Federal Question' MDLs - Law360". www.law360.com. Retrieved 2022-08-11.

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