One Senator Stops Agent Orange Reform Legislation- An effort (Unanimous Consent motion) by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) to bring the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” (H.R.299) to the Senate floor for a vote for final passage failed when one Senator, Michael Enzi (Wyo.), objected citing the Department of Veterans Affairs opposition. The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Valadao (Calif.) passed the House unanimously (382-0) on June 25, 2018. The legislation would clarify that service members serving off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam conflict have a presumption for filing disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for ailments associated with exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange. The next day, veteran’s organizations expressed outrage about the failed attempt to move the bill forward. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), sponsor of the Senate version of the bill (S.422) said, “The only thing standing in the way of this bill to help our Vietnam veterans is the U.S. Senate, and that is shameful. We have just days before this Congress is finished and our Blue Water Navy veterans are waiting for us. Their families are waiting for us. Some of them are dying [while] waiting for us.” Senate leaders could bring the bill up under regular order, but time is running out. Members are urged to use their Senators and weigh in on this issue before the end of the session. For more information, contact Sandra at the Veterans Service Office at 602 Strong Ave on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm, or call 365-3612.
Sandra G. Van Zant
Veterans County Service Officer