Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Passes House; Westerman Language Extending Benefits to Children of Agent Orange Victims Included in Bill
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017, on Monday (June 25) by a vote of 382-0.
The bill, co-sponsored by Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), included language from Westerman’s H.R. 4843 to extend coverage for children with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure to Agent Orange.
Prior to Monday’s vote, Westerman delivered the following speech urging final passage:
Thank you, Chairman Roe and Representative Valadao, for your strong leadership on this issue.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Act.
Our nation’s soldiers are told they will receive benefits and coverage through the VA because of their service, but reality shows this has not always been the case, as with Agent Orange. This legislation would correct the issue by providing rightly-earned benefits to the men and women who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange during their time of service.
Also included in the Blue Water Navy Act is language from my bipartisan bill, H.R. 4843, that provides coverage for children with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure to Agent Orange. I want to thank Bill Rhodes, a veteran in my district who has advocated tirelessly for his fellow veterans.
I think it is pretty cut and dry. If you served America through the Armed Forces, and were exposed to Agent Orange, our grateful country should cover the medical expenses.
Our veterans made great sacrifice and they deserve the best benefits and care possible. The Blue Water Navy Act is a great step toward providing these benefits, and I commend Chairman Roe and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee for their work to make this legislation a reality for our veterans.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back.