Tester Successfully Clears Major Veterans Priorities From Committee Hurdle

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously passes bill to expand health care access for veterans of the War on Terror, and improve benefits for veterans and survivors

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee today unanimously passed the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act of 2020 and Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020—two bills to expand Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits to veterans nationwide.

“Today’s bipartisan agreement will mean expanded health care access for veterans of the War on Terror—especially those exposed to toxins,” said Ranking Member Tester. “This common-sense solution will make sure that our youngest generation of veterans have access to quality and timely VA health care services when they need them, as we continue our work to ensure all veterans impacted by toxic exposure—from those who served in Vietnam to those still serving today—get the care and benefits they earned.”

The Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act of 2020 will fundamentally reform and improve how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care from VA. It will provide health care coverage to many veterans that served in the Armed Forces in recent decades including:

  • Veterans who earned certain campaign medals;
  • Veterans who are eligible for VA’s burn pit registry; or
  • Veterans identified by the Department of Defense as being exposed to a toxic substance, inside or outside of the U.S.

The Committee also ushered the Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020, legislation to provide more education benefits for servicemembers and their families; improve the Department’s oversight of veterans’ pension benefits; enhance benefits for National Guardsmen and Reservists and their survivors as well as burial benefits for our servicemembers and veterans; and expand survivors benefits for the families of Medal of Honor recipients. Within this package, Tester successfully secured a number of key bills he authored including his bipartisan Veteran Pension Protection Act of 2019, Veterans Cemetery Grants Improvement Act of 2020, and Veterans Benefits Fairness and Transparency Act of 2020.