This week in Congress: Military toxic exposure legislation nears the finish line (again)

An airman tosses unserviceable uniform items into the Joint Base Balad, Iraq, burn pit in this March 2008 file photo from the U.S. Air Force.

The Senate is expected to take up major military toxic exposure legislation in coming days after House lawmakers passed corrections to the measure last week.

The bill — the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (or PACT Act) — was expected to be sent to the White House before the July 4 holiday, but was stalled by technical problems with the measure. The House addressed those in a bipartisan vote last Wednesday. Advocates are hopeful that the Senate can move quickly on the issue this week.

The legislation would cost almost $280 billion over the next 10 years and provide new medical and disability benefits for as many as one in every five veterans living in America today. Both veterans groups and lawmakers have called it possibly the most comprehensive effort ever to address toxic exposure issues in the military.

The PACT Act won’t be the only big veterans news on Capitol Hill this week, however. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee members are expected to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs ongoing and controversial electronic medical records modernization project during a hearing on Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 19

House Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — 2118 Rayburn

Readiness programs

Service officials will testify on military readiness initiatives and the National Defense Strategy.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn

Russian-Ukraine War

Department of Commerce officials will testify on economic penalties for Russia and support for Ukraine.

Senate Homeland Security — 10 a.m. — 342 Dirksen

Weapons of mass destruction

Department of Homeland Security officials will testify on the potential threat of weapons of mass destruction to America.

Senate Judiciary Committee — 10 a.m. — 226 Dirksen

Russian sanctions

Federal officials will testify on efforts to aid Ukraine through forfeiture of Russian oligarchs’ assets.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210

Pending legislation

The committee will mark up 17 pending bills.

Senate Foreign Relations — 2:30 p.m. — Capitol S116

Pending business

The committee will consider several pending nominations and bills.

Wednesday, July 20

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn

Russian war crimes

Outside experts will testify on evidence of war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Senate Foreign Relations —10 a.m. — 419 Dirksen

Global food security

State Department officials will testify on U.S. efforts to combat hunger worldwide.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn

UN World Food Program

Officials will testify on successes and challenges of the UN World Food Program.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 1 p.m. — Visitors Center H210

Veteran education

VA officials will testify on education improvements put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn

Russia in Latin America

Outside experts will testify on Russian influence in Latin America and potential problems that it brings for western nations.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs — 3 p.m. — 418 Russell

VA electronic health records

VA officials will testify on the status of the department’s election medical records modernization program.

Thursday, July 21

House Foreign Affairs — 9:30 a.m. — online hearing


Outside experts will testify on U.S. influence in Africa.

Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen


The committee will consider the nominations of Lt. Gen. Bryan Fenton to be head of U.S. Special Operations Command and Lt, Gen. Michael Langley to be head of U.S. Africa Command.

Senate Homeland Security — 10:15 a.m. — 342 Dirksen


The committee will consider the nomination of David Pekoske to be administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.