Lawmakers Included The Camp Lejeune Justice Act In The Honoring Our Pact Act After Considering The Bill Separately
Inclusion of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act could have been the sticking point delaying the overall legislation from passing
Saturday, August 6, 2022 - 40 US Senators joined the lead of North Carolina senators Republicans Richard Burr and Thom Tillis to block the passage of President Biden's Honoring Our Pact Act, a bill that would provide US military veterans with enhanced health and financial benefits. The crux of the bill centered on those who have developed diseases like cancer, Parkinson's disease, and other PTSD-like problems stemming from unregulated toxic burn pit exposure. Many of the veteran's illnesses and deaths were from cancer that went undiagnosed due to the disease's latency period of 5 to 10 years when one does not yet know they have the disease. Most cancer deaths from burn pit exposure happen later in life. In addition, some experts think that exposure to toxic burn pit exposure could lead to chromosome damage and negatively impact a veteran's ability to have healthy children. The HOPA had the support of 55 Senators but 45 voted against it. A bill is required to have a 3/5 majority to pass the Senate and be sent to the President's desk for a final signature to become law. The bill had initially won approval from both the House of Representatives and the Senate but was temporarily recalled for further consideration.
Given the objections from both North Carolina senators, it looks likely that the inclusion of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act could have been the sticking point preventing the overall bill from passing. The CLJA was rejected by the Senate a couple of months ago on jurisdictional grounds. Passage of the CLJA would allow military veterans, civilian employees, and their family members the right to sue the State and Federal government, and others for negligence in failing to shut down the local water treatment facilities for years after first learning that it was contaminated with toxic chemicals mainly from improperly disposing of firefighting foam. According to WECT.com, "In 1980 officials at the base found the water to be contaminated after a requirement from the Environmental Protection Agency. An analyst hired by the U.S. Marine Corps two years later confirmed the water was contaminated, but the water treatment plant causing the issues wasn't closed until 1987." During this time, millions of individuals drank toxic tap water that has allegedly caused all types of Camp Lejeune cancer and neurological disorders.
Under the general provisions of the CLJA military families and civilian military employees who lived on or near Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30-days beginning in 1953 would have the right to hire a Camp Lejeune water attorney and file a lawsuit against the Department of Defense and the Federal government in general. The State of North Carolina might also be held accountable in a court of law, thus the stringent objections to the Act by the North Carolina representatives. The Act overturns the draconian 2-year statute of limitations that prevents people from suing the government if their illnesses are diagnosed after two years of living on or near the base, a condition that is nearly impossible to satisfy given the 5-10 year latency period inherent in most diseases like cancer.