New Law May Help U.S. Veterans

( Remember that weird clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rubbing her hands together like an excited child during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address? Well, despite Pelosi’s strange behavior, she was celebrating Biden’s comments on a House bill that passed 256-174 on Thursday that overhauls the federal benefits system for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances while serving their country.

The bill received substantial support from Republicans, with 34 members of the GOP backing the bill, despite many members of the Congressional Republicans insisting that the bill cost too much.

Pelosi dismissed concerns from fiscally responsible Republicans, saying, “it’s a cost of war.”

“For the Republicans to go to the floor and say their veterans really don’t want this help with their health because it’s going to cost money and they’re more concerned about the budget … than they are about their health, oh really? You just gave tax cuts in 2017 to the richest people in America. Tax cuts for the rich, cancer for our veterans. That’s how we see this discussion and this debate,” she said.

Her claim, of course, was untrue. The 2017 tax cuts were the biggest since Reagan and provided welcome bonuses to working Americans all over the country. But Pelosi doesn’t let pesky facts get in the way of a good narrative!

The bill, however, is not law until it is passed in the Senate – and as it stands, the Senate version of the bill has some substantial differences.

House Veterans’ Affairs Chair Mark Takano, a Democrat from California, said that the Senate plans to “find the votes” to turn the bill into legislation, given that over 40 prominent veteran groups already support the legislation in its current form.

A less expensive version of the bill was already passed by the Senate in February, which was sponsored by Democratic Senate Veterans’ Affairs chairman Jon Tester.

The Senate bill expands healthcare to veterans who services in areas with known toxic exposure, while the House bill says that the benefits won’t reach enough people – arguing that all 3.5 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals should be eligible, too.

It remains to be seen, though, which one will ultimately become law.