(Updated July 23)
The Senate passed an amendment to its version of the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday that would add three medical conditions to the list of Agent Orange presumptives, a MOAA-supported move that would expand benefits to tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans.
The amendment, introduced by Sen. Tester (D-Mont.) would add bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms to the list. It passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 94-6.
The 32 military and veterans organizations in support of this amendment sent a letter last week to Senate and House leadership voicing the need to care for these veterans. These organizations were supported by MOAA’s grassroots efforts, which included thousands of messages sent in support.
Attention now turns back to the House, where an identical amendment was proposed in a bipartisan fashion by Reps. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), along with 15 other cosponsors. That measure did not make it out of the House Rules Committee, as it did not meet certain technical criteria for a floor vote.
However, with the provision included in the Senate’s version, the House Rules Committee requirements are no longer applicable, and there is another opportunity to include this provision in the final bill.
With the House version of the NDAA recently passed and the Senate’s final vote imminent, the next step is for the chambers to work out differences between the versions in the NDAA conference. Your voice is critical in to ensuring this provision stays in the final version, call or write your lawmaker now!