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The upcoming deadline every post-9/11 vet should know about
Next Wednesday is the last day veterans and survivors can apply for backdated benefits under the PACT Act.
The clock is ticking • During the first full week of the August recess, members of Congress scattered across their districts spread a simple but significant message for veterans and survivors: Apply for the health care and benefits you’ve earned by next Wednesday and you may receive a year’s worth of backdated benefits.
The benefits are available thanks to the PACT Act, a law Congress passed by overwhelming margins and President Joe Biden signed into law last year. The landmark legislation represents the biggest expansion of veterans’ health care in a generation.
“There is no higher responsibility, no greater moral obligation that we have as elected officials, as public servants, than to be there for the people people who have been there for our country in such and important, and resounding and significant way,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said in a statement to Supercreator Daily. “We’re asking people to either submit your claim or file a notice of intent to file by August 9.”
The PACT Act, explained • Named after Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson who died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act invested $797 billion to improve health care access and funding for veterans suffering from similar exposure.
Many of these toxic fumes were generated from burn pits, a waste disposal method the US used during the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War. 3.5 million service members could have been exposed to burn pits during America’s wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, according to a Defense Department estimate. President Biden has said he believes the brain cancer his son Beau died from in 2015 was a result of exposure to burn pits in Kosovo and Iraq.
Prior to the PACT Act’s passage, the Department of Veterans Affairs denied almost four out of every five disability claims by veterans who said they were exposed to toxins from burn pits. The PACT Act removed the requirement that veterans proved their illnesses were caused by burn pits.
Since becoming law, more than 100,000 veterans have enrolled in VA healthcare. And more than 700,000 benefits claims have been filed. More than 4 million veterans have received toxic exposure screenings already. And despite demands from House conservatives for across-the-board funding cuts to critical federal programs, the Toxic Exposure Fund is fully funded by billions of dollars for years to come.
Its passage was also a testament to the veterans and activists who pressed Congress to push the law over the finish line much sooner than the decades it took lawmakers to pass the 1991 Agent Orange Act to treat Vietnam veterans who experienced complications from the herbicides the US military used to clear foliage during the 20-year war.
Last July, veterans, including many who were exposed to burn pits, camped outside the US Capitol for five days in protest of a failed procedural vote that prevented the PACT Act from final consideration. Many Senate Democrats viewed the failed vote as retaliation from Senate Republicans for the agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) reached on the Inflation Reduction Act. Ultimately, the political pressure became too much and the bill cleared the Senate and here we are.
Spreading the word • Like most major pieces of legislation, passing them into law is just one step in making sure the people they’re intended to help receive the benefits.
This explains the increased outreach from members like Jeffries, who held an event this week in his Brooklyn district with Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Denis McDonough to discuss the backdated benefits deadline.
The VA also hosted 50-plus events across all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico in July to help veterans apply for benefits. And a senior House Democratic aide told Supercreator Daily that an event their member hosted this week was so successful, the office is hosting a follow-up event this month to support veterans with additional needs.
“There are many Veterans and survivors across New York — and across America — who are newly eligible for healthcare and benefits under the PACT Act,” McDonough said at the Brooklyn event. “And we will not rest until every one of them gets what they’ve earned.”
👋🏾 HI, HEY, HELLO! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, the essential guide to the politicians, power brokers, and policies shaping the American creator experience. Good Friday morning. It’s August 4, 2023.
Trump indictment vibe check • A majority of voters support the indictment of former President Donald Trump on charges related to his actions to overturn the 2020 election. Trump entered a not-guilty plea during his arraignment on Thursday at a federal courthouse in Washington, DC. The case’s next hearing is scheduled for August 28 before US District Judge Tanya Chutkan. (Eli Yokley / Morning Consult)
Must-see TV • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) led dozens of House Democrats in requesting the federal courts’ policymaking body to allow the Trump court proceedings in the 2020 election case to be televised. “Given the historic nature of the charges brought forth in these cases, it is hard to imagine a more powerful circumstance for televised proceedings, the lawmakers wrote to the Judicial Conference. “If the public is to fully accept the outcome, it will be vitally important for it to witness, as directly as possible, how the trials are conducted, the strength of the evidence adduced and the credibility of the witnesses.” (@RepAdamSchiff / X)
Tell us how you really feel • Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) called Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco “weak and feckless” in a post thanking former Speaker Nancy Pelosi for creating the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The criticism comes as House Democrats tout the committee’s report as a resource for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump that led to this week’s indictment. Boyle also thanked former Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the only two Republicans on the committee: “You will be remembered well in American history,” he wrote. (@RepBrendanBoyle / X)
AOC’s farm bill discussion • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) plans to outline how she will push for Congress to increase access to halal and kosher foods in the upcoming farm bill this afternoon during an event in her district. In May, the Agriculture Department requested information on expanding its kosher and halal food options in USDA nutrition assistance programs.
Tragedy in the Rio Grande • Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) called the death of two migrants, including a child, a direct consequence of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to erect buoys in the Rio Grande to prevent people from crossing the southern border. “This tragic loss is the inevitable result of Greg Abbott's cruel, dangerous border policies that disregard human life,” Crockett wrote. “Until the court expeditiously acts to grant the Justice Department’s preliminary injunction, we will continue to witness more dead and drowned children, fathers, and mothers.”
SCOTUS ethics scandal latest • Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats asked Chief Justice John Roberts to require Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself in any future cases on any legislation related to regulating the high court. The request follows a statement this week from committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) responding to criticism from Alito of the panel’s proposed Supreme Court ethics reform legislation. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) was the only Senate Judiciary Democrat not to sign the letter.
Related: “Kagan enters fray over Congress’ power to police Supreme Court” (Josh Gerstein / Politico)
Eye on 2024 • State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Del.) notched a big endorsement from women’s advocacy group EMILY’s List for election to Delaware’s at-large congressional district. If elected to the seat vacated by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), who is running for US Senate, McBride would be the first openly transgender woman to serve in Congress.
The Justins win their specials • Democratic state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson received decisive victories in their special elections to reclaim the seats in the Tennessee state legislature. Jones and Pearson, who were members expelled for protesting against Republican inaction on gun violence, will now complete their full term after being temporarily reinstated after the expulsion. (@DLCC / X)
Biden gets asylum win • An appeals court granted the Biden administration temporary permission to enforce a new rule restricting asylum at the southern border. Under the rule, people seeking asylum must first seek protection in a country they’re traveling through on their way to the US or apply online. Children traveling alone are among the few exceptions. A lower court found the policy illegal and ordered the government to end its use by Monday. (Rebecca Santana / AP News)
Uh, this isn’t good • Two Navy sailors were indicted and arrested in California for allegedly sharing sensitive US military information with Chinese intelligence officials. The arrests mark at least the third time this year that US service members have been arrested and charged with espionage. (Natasha Bertrand / CNN)
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ON THE FLOOR
The House will meet at 11 a.m. in a pro forma session.
The Senate will meet at 12 p.m. in a pro forma session.
‘ROUND THE HILL
A quiet Friday.
8:45 a.m. President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will travel from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to Wilmington, Delaware for the weekend, arriving at 9:20 a.m.
Vice President Harris is scheduled to travel to the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast Washington, DC to speak about Bidenomics, make an announcement about increasing support for US small businesses, and visit with local small businesses.
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