Rubio, Cortez Masto Reintroduce Bill to Combat the CCP’s Political Influence Operations

Source: United States Senator for Florida Marco Rubio

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) reintroduced the Countering the Chinese Government and Communist Party’s Political Influence Operations Act, which aims to combat the Chinese Communist Party’s political influence operations in the United States and around the world. The legislation requires the U.S. Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence to organize an interagency task force to compile an unclassified report on China’s disinformation, press manipulation, economic coercion and influence operations in the United States and in certain allied and partner countries who are most at-risk to these operations. The bipartisan bill also requires a strategy to counter Beijing’s growing influence in the United States and to protect U.S. citizens, particularly those that are members of the Chinese, Uyghur and Tibetan diaspora communities, from Chinese government threats.

Rubio is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“As our nation continues to confront the threat posed by the Chinese Government and Communist Party, it must have the tools necessary to combat Beijing’s malicious and coercive political influence,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan initiative, which would require an unclassified interagency report that would benefit legislators and the public.”

“We should be doing everything we can to protect our nation’s democratic system from foreign attacks,” Cortez Masto said. “This bipartisan legislation will raise awareness about the real threat the Chinese Government’s interference poses around the world, while also developing policy solutions that will counter threats to the security of our democracy.”

Rubio Reintroduces Bill to Eliminate Interest for Federal Student Loans

Source: United States Senator for Florida Marco Rubio

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) reintroduced the Leveraging Opportunities for Americans Now (LOAN) Act, legislation that would reform the federal direct student loan system by eliminating interest and replacing it with a one-time, non-compounding origination fee that borrowers will pay over the life of the loan. The LOAN Act would also place borrowers in an income-based repayment (IBR) plan, ensuring working-class Americans are not further burdened with monthly repayments they are unable to afford. Rubio first introduced the LOAN Act in May 2019. 
 
“Working-class Americans should be able to pursue an education without having to worry about finding themselves trapped in an insurmountable debt cycle for years beyond graduation,” Rubio said. “My bill would reform our federal student loan system so that borrowers don’t get stuck with debt they can never repay. Instead of accruing interest, borrowers will pay a one-time fee paid out over the life of the loan and will be automatically placed in an income-based repayment plan. It’s time to update our federal student loan system, because fear of debt should never stand in the way of an education and the pursuit of a better life.”
 
“UNCF has been a long champion of reforming our financial aid system, and we have been vocal in advocating for reducing the burden on students to repay their loans,” President and CEO of UNCF (United Negro College Fund, Inc.) Dr. Michael L. Lomax, said. “I am excited to support a bill that would not only eliminate interest rates on student loans, but create a process that increases equity in our financial aid system and takes unforeseen financial circumstances that would affect a borrower’s ability to repay their loan, regardless of income, into consideration. This is a strong and robust proposal, and low-income students would fair better under the repayment system this bill creates versus our current structure. It is my hope that this bill will spur further conversation and proposals around innovative ways to reform our federal financial aid system that benefits our low-income students.”
 
“Importantly, the LOAN Act would mirror BPC’s recommendations to streamline income-driven repayment (IDR) options and make IDR the default plan for borrowers, promoting affordable monthly payments and improving repayment outcomes,” Executive Director of Bipartisan Policy Center Action Michele Stockwell, said. “These changes would support federal student loan borrowers by promoting simplification, transparency, and automatic features in the student loan repayment process.”
 
The LOAN Act:

  • Beginning with the 2022 school year, all federal direct student loans will have one-time financing fees instead of interest, which will be paid over the life of the loan and not accumulate with age.
  • This financing fee will not increase over time and it will finally give borrowers greater understanding of the actual costs of higher education.
  • Borrowers enrolled in school but haven’t graduated before this date have their choice to continue using the current loan system or the new, interest free loans created by the LOAN Act.
  • Borrowers will automatically be placed in an income-based repayment (IBR) plan, where they pay 10% of their earnings in excess of 150% of the federal poverty line, except in times of unforeseen financial hardship.
  • Borrowers can still choose the standard 10-year repayment plan, but this will no longer be the default.
  • Borrowers that pay more towards their loan than necessary can have their financing fee reduced, ensuring there is still an incentive to pay off loans in advance.
  • The borrower’s income would be verified by the Treasury based on tax filings. Those earning less than 150% of the federal poverty line would not have to contribute toward their loan.

 
Related: 

Rubio, Markey Applaud Commerce Committee Passage of Secure Equipment Act

Source: United States Senator for Florida Marco Rubio

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ed Markey (D-MA) applauded the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s approval of their bipartisan legislation, the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, which closes a loophole by directing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify that it will no longer review or approve applications from companies on the Commission’s “Covered List.” The bill would also prevent further integration and sales of Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision, and Dahua – all Chinese state-backed or directed firms – in the U.S. regardless of whether federal funds are involved. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
 
In 2020, the FCC adopted new rules to require that U.S. telecommunications carriers rip out and replace equipment provided by “covered” companies. While that was an important step, those rules only apply to equipment purchased with federal funding. The very same equipment can still be used if purchased with private or non-federal government dollars. Senators Rubio and Markey introduced the Secure Equipment Act to close this loophole and further prevent identified security threats from having a presence in U.S. telecommunications networks. Subsequently, the FCC initiated a rulemaking that mirrors the lawmakers’ proposal. This legislation builds on the FCC’s ongoing proceeding and requires timely action on this issue.
 
“The Chinese Communist Party will stop at nothing to exploit our laws and undermine our national security,” Rubio said. “Chinese state-directed companies, like Huawei and ZTE, have no place in our telecommunications network. This bill would keep compromised equipment from bad actors out of critical U.S. infrastructure. I am pleased that the Commerce Committee advanced this bill, and I look forward to its ultimate passage on the Senate floor.”
 
“In today’s increasingly connected world, we must animate our technology with our values,” Markey said. “That’s why our bipartisan legislation will keep compromised equipment out of U.S. telecommunications networks and ensure our technology is safe for consumers and secure for the United States. I’m proud to partner with Senator Rubio on this proposal and I thank the Commerce Committee for advancing our bill. I look forward to now fighting for its swift passage by the full Senate.”
 
U.S. Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives, which was recently advanced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
 
“The Secure Equipment Act of 2021 will help keep our country safe by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders. These latest efforts align with my efforts to update the Federal Communications Commission’s equipment authorization procedures,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “I thank Senators Markey and Rubio for their dedication to this issue–having this policy written into the law will send a strong, bipartisan signal that the United States is serious about developing a robust market for secure 5G alternatives
 
“I applaud Senator Rubio and Senator Markey for their leadership and work to secure America’s communications networks,” FCC Commissioner Carr said. “Their legislation would help ensure that insecure gear from companies like Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese state-backed entities can no longer be inserted into America’s communications infrastructure. This gear poses an unacceptable risk to our national security, and their bipartisan legislation would ensure that the FCC closes the loophole being used today by Huawei and others on the Covered List to be a part of our networks. I am very pleased that this legislation has advanced out of Committee and look forward to its consideration by the full Senate.”

News 08/4/2021 Blackburn Introduces Measure to Help Restart the Keystone Pipeline

Source: United States Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced an amendment to the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that could result in restarting the Keystone Pipeline.

“If Joe Biden cared about infrastructure, he would restart the Keystone XL Pipeline,” said Senator Blackburn. “Instead, Biden killed over 1,000 good-paying jobs by canceling the pipeline. For Biden, the infrastructure bill, just like the pipeline, is about appeasing AOC and the left’s woke socialist agenda.”

BACKGROUND

• Senator Blackburn’s amendment will require President Biden to rescind his executive order that canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline if the project study determines that there will be a loss in jobs and higher energy prices for consumers.

U.S. Senate Honors Police Officers with Congressional Gold Medal for Defending U.S. Capitol from January 6 Attackers

Source: United States Senator for Rhode Island Jack Reed

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the full U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal — the legislative branch’s highest honor and a national expression of appreciation for distinguished achievement — to the U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies involved in protecting the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 insurrection.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, supported the measure, which authorizes the striking of four gold medals, to be distributed to the Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, as well as to the Architect of the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution, with each agency directed to put their medals on public display.

“I am so grateful to all the brave police officers and law enforcement officials who risked their lives to defend our democracy and protect the U.S. Capitol from the violent mob.  There were so many individual and collective acts of courage by our police officers that day and they deserve to be recognized.  This award is a testament to their service and sacrifice, and a national thank you to them and their families,” said Senator Reed, who was in the U.S. Senate chamber when thousands of Trump supporters illegally breached the U.S. Capitol.  “That mob came to fight and disrupt the peaceful, democratic transfer of power.  These officers stood for what was right, and ultimately they, and our democracy, prevailed.”

On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol was violently stormed and overtaken by a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump who were seeking to disrupt the lawful counting and certifying of electoral votes that ultimately confirmed Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.  During the violence, one-hundred and forty police officers were injured and one, Brian D. Sicknick, was killed, while several other DC police officers who responded to the U.S. Capitol insurrection have died by suicide in the aftermath of the attack.

Today’s vote in the U.S. Senate was unanimous.  On June 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed identical legislation by a vote of 406-21, with 21 Republicans voting against honoring the police for defending the U.S. Capitol.

The legislation passed today honors all “the United States Capitol Police and those who protected the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”  Previously, Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal individually to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who led a violent mob away from the Senate doors during the insurrection as the mob hunted for lawmakers who were certifying the Electoral College results.

The bill now goes to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Senate Committee Passes Senator Hassan’s Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Suicide Prevention Training in Schools

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Maggie Hassan

August 04, 2021

Committee Also Passes Senator Hassan’s Bill to Expand Access to Assistive Technology

WASHINGTON – The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted to pass U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan’s bipartisan bill to address rising youth suicide rates, which she introduced with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) earlier this year. The Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act encourages states, public schools, and Tribes to implement evidence-based policies and trainings to prevent suicides by prioritizing grantees with these policies to receive certain types of grants, including ones to promote youth mental health awareness among schools and communities and improve connections to services for school-age youth.

“I’ve heard directly from New Hampshire students about the significant challenges that they have faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and their need for additional mental health support,” said Senator Hassan. “That’s why my bill with Senator Ernst to expand access to youth prevention programs in schools is so timely. I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation is moving through the Senate, and I will continue to work with my colleagues so that we can pass this bill into law.”

Earlier this year, Senator Hassan met with students, teachers, and administrators from Epping School District, and during a recent Committee hearing, Senator Hassan shared their stories and highlighted their need for additional mental health supports.

In addition, the Committee also passed a bipartisan bill that Senator Hassan cosponsored to expand access to affordable assistive technology for seniors and individuals who experience disabilities, which includes items such as hearing aids, wheelchair ramps, or devices to help individuals who are non-verbal to communicate. The bipartisan 21st Century Assistive Technology Act would update the Assistive Technology Act by clarifying that the program serves all people with disabilities, including veterans and older adults who developed disabilities later in life. This bill would also increase the funding authorized for programs that serve rural areas.

“As a mother of a son who experiences disabilities, I have seen firsthand how important assistive technology is in day-to-day life,” said Senator Hassan. “I am glad that the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has passed this bipartisan bill to expand access to assistive technology, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that individuals who experience disabilities receive the support that they need.”

 

###

Video: Kaine & Young Applaud Committee Passage of Their Bill to Repeal 1991 & 2002 AUMFs

Source: United States Senator for Virginia Tim Kaine

August 04, 2021

For video of Kaine’s remarks, click here

For video of Young’s remarks, click here

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), applauded committee passage of their bipartisan legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq. The legislation will formally end the authorizations for the Gulf and Iraq wars, reasserting Congress’ vital role in not only declaring wars, but in ending them. The repeal of these authorizations will also recognize the strong partnership that the United States now has with a sovereign, democratic Iraq and reflect the end of the U.S. combat mission there. In June, the House voted to repeal the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs. 

“Congress has a responsibility to repeal these unnecessary war authorizations,” said Senator Kaine. “Keeping the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs on the books would only risk future misuse and undermine our partnership with Iraq. Iraq is not an enemy and we should not treat it as if it is. I’m glad that my effort to repeal these outdated AUMFs, which I have spearheaded since arriving to Congress, has finally reached this pivotal point. I hope the Senate will promptly pass this bill and President Biden will soon sign this measure into law to show the American people that the Article I and II branches can work together on these critical issues.” 

“For decades, Congress has been content to cede our Constitutionally mandated role of approving wars to the Executive Branch. Despite the war in Iraq being over for years, and the Government of Iraq now being our partner, the authorities for that war remain on the books and open to potential abuses,” said Senator Young. “Since being elected to the Senate, reasserting the proper role of Congress in critical matters of when, and how, to use force has been one of my top priorities. I’m proud that with today’s vote to pass my bipartisan legislation, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took the first step toward retaking these critical authorities. I look forward to the full Senate repealing these authorities in the coming weeks and formally bringing the war in Iraq to an end.” 

For years, Kaine and Young have been the leading voices in Congress raising concerns over the use of military force without congressional authorization. They have pushed for the repeal of outdated AUMFs to reassert Congress’ role in authorizing military action and take away the blank check that multiple Presidents have used to fight wars across the globe.

Kaine and Young’s legislation is an effort to prevent the future misuse of the expired Gulf and Iraq War authorizations and strengthen Congressional oversight over war powers. Repealing these authorities will not impact ongoing U.S. operations to counter ISIS.

You can read the bill text here.

Senator Kaine would like to thank his Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Nicole Porreca for her tireless work on this bill.

###

Gillibrand Calls On The Department Of The Treasury To Implement Bold Economic Policies To Combat The Climate Crisis

Source: United States Senator for New York Kirsten Gillibrand

August 04, 2021

In A Letter to the Treasury Department’s First Climate Counselor, Gillibrand Calls For Bold Action And Financial Leverage To Tackle Climate Change

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter urging the Department of the Treasury’s new Climate Counselor, John Morton, to take swift and aggressive action to combat the climate crisis. Morton has been charged with leading the department’s new Climate Hub and has the unique ability to elevate the Biden-Harris administration’s climate-related goals and leverage financial risk mitigation to confront the threat of climate change. Senator Gillibrand penned this letter alongside Senators Warren (D-MA) and Van Hollen (D-MD), and they have requested a response no later than August 16, 2021. Together, they wrote:

“We are seeking information on how you plan to fulfill this role in the months ahead, including how you intend to coordinate a strategy in response to President Biden’s recent Executive Order, which directs Treasury to issue a report on how Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) member agencies are integrating climate-related financial risk into their policies and programs,” wrote the senators. “Given that FSOC is comprised of a mix of regulators – at both the federal and state levels – with potentially differing priorities, it is imperative that you wield your leadership position in the Climate Hub to support FSOC’s efforts to align these financial regulators and implement strong guidelines to ensure that banks and financial institutions, which continue to finance risky fossil fuel investments, are adequately prepared for climate-related disruptions.” 

“We are glad to see that Treasury is committed to exercising its unique responsibilities to develop and deploy economy-wide strategies to mitigate climate-related risks, and we look forward to working together to use every tool available, as quickly as we can. We urge you to develop and implement the bold and long overdue agenda that is necessary to facilitate the transition to a clean energy economy and combat the urgent climate crisis facing us,” wrote the senators

Secretary Yellen first announced her intention to appoint an official to lead Treasury’s climate efforts during her Senate confirmation hearing in January 2021. In April, the department announced that it was prioritizing a broad range of climate-related policies and that Morton would serve as the first Climate Counselor to lead a newly created Climate Hub as part of its new coordinated climate strategy.

As described by Treasury, this climate policy strategy is to “support the Biden-Harris Administration’s critical climate-related goals,” and includes the following outlined objectives:

  • Mobilizing financial resources for climate-friendly investments at home and abroad, and prioritizing the expedited transition of high-emitting sectors and industries;
  • Leveraging economic and tax policies to support building climate-resilient infrastructure and ensuring the transition to a net-zero decarbonized economy;
  • Ensuring that environmental justice considerations feature centrally in programs, policies, and activities given the disproportionate impacts that climate change has on disadvantaged communities;
  • Ensuring that policies designed and implemented to assist with the transition to a lower-carbon economy are broadly just and equitable and support well-paying jobs;
  • Helping household, businesses, workers, and investors analyze, stay informed about, and adapt to the economic and financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change;
  • Promoting globally consistent approaches to climate-related financial risks; and
  • Understanding and mitigating the risks that climate change poses to the stability of the U.S. and global financial system and economy

Gillibrand has long fought to combat climate change, protect our environment, address environmental justice and invest in clean energy. In July of 2021, Senator Gillibrand sent a letter to congressional leadership encouraging the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC). The landmark Civilian Climate Corps would strengthen climate resiliency by supporting projects such as wildfire preparedness and drought management, support natural climate solutions through investing in the restoration and maintenance of public lands and waters, reduce carbon emissions through investments in a clean energy economy, and more. In May, Senator Gillibrand also introduced her Promoting Energy Alternatives is Key to Emission Reductions (PEAKER) Act of 2021, which would provide financial incentives to facilitate more rapid deployment of clean energy and battery storage to replace aging and dirty peaker plants in disadvantaged communities.

To read the full letter, please click here.

ICYMI: At The Urging Of Senator Gillibrand, Jon Stewart, And Veterans Advocates, The Department Of Veterans Affairs Announces Expanded Benefits For Disability Claims For Conditions Related To Certain Toxic Exposures

Source: United States Senator for New York Kirsten Gillibrand

August 04, 2021

Jon Stewart On Fox News Addressing the VA’s Announcement: “This is the cost of war”

In case you missed it, starting on Monday, August 2nd, 2021, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs began processing disability claims for conditions on a presumptive basis for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service in Southwest Asia. This marks the first VA decision to add presumptive illnesses that benefit those exposed to burn pits during their service – the method that Senator Gillibrand has encouraged the secretary to use and is the basis for her bill, the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins ActThe bipartisan and bicameral bill would create a presumptive service connection for over 20 categories of diseases, including asthma, and streamline the process for veterans to obtain benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Approximately 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits that spewed toxic fumes and carcinogens into the air. In June of 2021, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted to send the Honoring Our PACT Act to the full floor and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted out the COST of War Act in May. Both bills included significant provisions from Senator Gillibrand’s burn pits legislation. 

“This is life-changing news for countless American veterans who are relying on the VA to provide benefits for illnesses incurred while serving our country,” said Senator Gillibrand, chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “More than three million service members could have been exposed to toxic burn pits and, starting this week, the VA has taken a critical step toward removing the burden of proof on veterans suffering from three types of respiratory illnesses. While this is a great first step, we still have work to do. Congress must pass the full Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act to cover the true cost of war and to get veterans the full spectrum of care they need.

In the VA announcement, Secretary McDonough said, “I announced my intent to initiate rulemaking on May 27 to consider adding respiratory conditions to the list of chronic disabilities. Through this process I determined that the evidence provided was sufficient to establish presumptions of service connection for these three respiratory conditions. This is the right decision, and VA will continue to use a holistic approach in determining toxic exposure presumptives moving forward.”

The Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act would remove the “burden of proof” from the veteran to provide enough evidence to establish a direct service connection between their health condition and exposure. Rather, the veteran would only need to submit documentation that they received a campaign medal associated with the Global War on Terror or the Gulf War and they suffer from a qualifying health condition. Campaign medals are awarded to members of the armed forces who deploy for military operations in a designated combat zone or geographical theater.

According to the VA, benefits to service in Southwest Asia refers to operations in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the airspace above these locations.

Background:

During military operations in the Global War on Terror and the Gulf War, the military employed open-air burn pits in order to burn garbage, medical waste, plastics, and other waste from military installations. According to estimates, at least 230 pits were utilized in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many others were used across the world. One of the largest of these burn pits was located at Balad Air Base, Iraq, and during its operation, consisted of 10-acres of burning trash, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

It has long been established that burning waste and garbage has significant negative impacts on the environment and human health — which is why using burn pits on American soil is against the law and exposure to other toxic substances is highly regulated. However, the military exposed millions of our men and women in uniform to carcinogenic toxic fumes released by burn pits that were used throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. It is estimated that more than 3.5 million military personnel could have been exposed to burn pits and the VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry website shows that more than 255,000 veterans and service members have completed and submitted a questionnaire to self-report medical information about burn pit exposure. 

Furthermore, the exposure of our service members to dangerous chemicals and environments has not been limited to burn pits. Shortly after 9/11, the U.S. military established Camp Stronghold Freedom at the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, known as K2, a former Soviet base in Uzbekistan that had held chemical weapons enriched with Uranium. Thousands of veterans were exposed to these dangerous toxins at this base, and many now suffer from rare cancers and other ailments.  

Veterans are now sick and dying from lung diseases, cancers, and respiratory illnesses after living among this toxic cocktail of dust, smoke and debris while serving our country overseas. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to deny many veterans access to the VA with the excuse that there isn’t enough science to prove their ailments are service-connected.   

Under current law, a veteran who has an illness or disability must establish a direct service connection in order to be eligible for VA benefits. Direct service connection means that evidence establishes that a particular injury or disease resulting in a disability was incurred while in service in the Armed Forces. For veterans exposed to burn pits, this means they would need to provide medical evidence of a current disease or disability, provide personal or other evidence of in-service physical presence near a specific burn pit or exposure to specific toxins or substance and provide evidence of a link between the disability or illness and exposure. Upon completion of these steps, the VA determines if there is enough evidence to provide a medical exam and continue with the disability compensation claim. Therefore, it is currently the veteran’s responsibility to provide their illness or disability is directly connected to burn pit exposure. 

The Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act would cover a wide range of cancers and respiratory illnesses as presumptive conditions, including: asthma that was diagnosed after service, head cancer of any type, neck cancer of any type, respiratory cancer of any type, gastrointestinal cancer of any type, reproductive cancer of any type, lymphoma cancer of any type, lymphomatic cancer of any type, kidney cancer, brain cancer, melanoma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis, emphysema, granulomatous disease, interstitial lung disease, pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis. 

The following organizations support the bill: IAVA, The American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wounded Warrior Project, Reserve Officers Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Burn Pits 360, Green Beret Foundation, Go2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, Dixon Center, National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), Military Veterans Advocacy, Veterans for Common Sense, Sgt. Sullivan Circle, VoteVets, Stronghold Freedom Foundation, Grunt Style, Cease Fire Campaign, Veteran Warriors Inc., National Association County Veterans Service Officers, FealGood Foundation, Blinded Veterans Association.

Jon Stewart, John Feal, and Gillibrand previously worked together to make the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund permanent.

Durbin Statement On Senate Committee Vote On Repeal Of 2002 Iraq AUMF

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin

08.04.21

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement regarding today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on the repeal of the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq:

“Our Constitution is clear—only the United States Congress has the power to declare war.  For too long, Congress has abdicated this most serious of responsibilities.  I support this bipartisan effort to terminate the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Iraq.  As one of only 23 Senators to vote against the 2002 Iraq War authorization, it is long overdue that we turn the page on this war.”

In a speech on the Senate floor today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reiterated his intention to bring the repeal up for a vote in the Senate later this year.

-30-