PALM DESERT — The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 6 passed H.R. 1381, the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act, the first burn pits-related legislation to pass the House or Senate in 2019.
The Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act passed the House with 416 votes in favor, 0 votes against.
H.R. 1381, authored by Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D., CA-36, and co-led by Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup, OH-02, would improve the burn pit registry by allowing entries to be updated with the cause of death after a registered veteran passes away. The bill is now closer than ever to becoming law.
Dr. Ruiz first introduced the bipartisan legislation in honor of local veteran Jennifer Kepner, who passed away from pancreatic cancer connected to her exposure to burn pits in Iraq. H.R. 1381 will expand and improve the data available for studies related to burn pits, helping researchers determine the full range of diseases and negative health outcomes that can result from exposure to them.
“Today the House passed my bipartisan Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act, a crucial win for our veterans exposed to toxic burn pits,” Dr. Ruiz, Co-Chair of the Burn Pits Caucus, said in a prepared statement. “As a doctor, I know that good data is essential to addressing any public health issue. My bill will spur medical research to help physicians diagnose illnesses and potentially save the lives of veterans exposed to burn pits. None of this would be possible without Jennifer Kepner, whose legacy of empathy and service continue to inspire my fight to ensure every veteran exposed to burn pits can access the health care and benefits they have earned and deserve.”
Congressman Brad Wenstrup, Co-Chair of the Burn Pits Caucus, said in a prepared statmente, “As an Iraq War veteran, I am familiar with the use of burn pits in theater and understand the potential harm (they) can inflict on service members, even years after exposure. The Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act would ensure the VA has more accurate records for veterans exposed to (them), so we can better serve those with service-related illnesses.”
Last week, Congressman Ruiz announced that for the first time, the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act has a bipartisan companion bill in the Senate. The bill’s passage in the House brings it even closer to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
The Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act would:
- Ensure that the burn pit registry may be updated with the cause of death of a registered individual;
- Allow a designated individual or immediate family member to report the cause of death of a registered individual;
- Provide a process by which a registered individual may make a designation regarding who is to make the report to the registry on their behalf;
- Burn Pits: Stars and Stripes