Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Bipartisan Burn Pits Legislation Included in Major Defense Authorization Bill

June 4, 2019
Press Release
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s (HI-02) legislation, the Burn Pits Accountability Act (H.R. 663) was passed as part of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel’s mark of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Burn Pits Accountability Act (H.R. 663), which she introduced earlier this year with Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18), would require the Department of Defense to evaluate and track the exposure of U.S. servicemembers and veterans to open burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals. Currently, the Burn Pits Accountability Act has 180 bipartisan cosponsors.
 
“Over 3.7 million of my brothers and sisters in uniform have been exposed to toxic burn pits during multiple deployments to the Middle East since 9/11 alone. Passing our legislation will require the military to track and accurately report every servicemembers’ exposure to burn pits so that we can make sure they get the treatment and care that they need and deserve,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Exposure to toxic burn pits is the Agent Orange of my generation — we cannot allow our nation to leave them behind.”
 
“For too long, the federal government has sat quietly as thousands of servicemembers exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered terrible health effects at a young age,” said Rep. Brian Mast. “But today we took a critical step in the right direction to combat what has become Agent Orange of my generation, and I’m committed to continuing this fight to ensure every servicemember has access to the care they’ve earned.”
 
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced H.R. 663, the Burn Pits Accountability Act, earlier this year with Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18). It would require the Secretary of Defense to record whether servicemembers have been based or stationed at a location where an open burn pit was used or exposed to toxic airborne chemicals, including any information recorded as part of the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, in the Periodic Health Assessment (PHAs), Separation History and Physical Examination (SHPEs), and Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHAs). It would enroll any servicemember who meets these criteria in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, unless he or she opts-out. And, it would require the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to share information relating to exposure of burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals recorded in PHAs, SHPEs, and PDHAs.
 
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has previously introduced legislation and fought for its passage is supported by over two dozen service member organizations. In May 2019, she wrote about the ongoing fight to track and report burn pit exposure so that veterans can get the care they need, urging Congress not to repeat the mistakes of our nation’s slow response to Agent Orange exposure.
 
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawaii’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for 16 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
 
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