(WHTM) — A bill to help veterans sickened by toxic burn pits is headed to the President Biden’s desk. It passed the Senate Tuesday for the second time in 2022, but Pennsylvania’s senators came down on different sides.

The Honoring Our PACT has seen much back and forth. It passed both houses of Congress once back in June, but a change in language restarted the process in the Senate. Now it is on track to become law.

“It would be a stain on America if we had failed,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) said.

Casey described his feelings of “relief” and “gratitude.”

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“It is long overdue, we could have saved a lot of lives,” he said.

The Honoring Our PACT Act, a bill to help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, passed the senate with bipartisan support.

“86 to 11. I’m not sure you can get a vote like that on a motion to adjourn for lunch,” Casey said.

The bill would expand health care coverage for an estimated 3.5 million veterans exposed to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Many developed terminal illnesses, including the late National Guard soldier from Mechanicsburg Scott Laird, whose story abc27 has followed. Laird’s family and doctor believe his diagnosis of colon cancer is due to burn pit exposure.

Casey said he heard similar stories from veterans families who stood outside the Capitol pushing for senators to pass the bill.

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“This mom talked about her son who was exposed to these toxic burn pits spitting out blood,” Casey said.

Pennsylvania State Senator Devlin Robinson has felt the effects firsthand. Robinson served in the Marine Corps in the early 2000s in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The burn pits were everywhere,” he said. “”It smelled like burning plastic, burning garbage.”

Robinson said everything from metal to uniforms to human waste was thrown into the burn pits.

“Anything that we didn’t, couldn’t use went into the burn pits,” he said.

Robinson said it was disheartening seeing veterans who were exposed to burn pits and got sick get their claims denied. However, the PACT Act passing gives him hope.

He said he had family members who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War who also developed illnesses, but he said it took the government longer to acknowledge those negative affects.

“Veterans will have an easier time getting their problems taken care of though,” he said.

The bill’s path was not smooth. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and some other Tepublicans opposed the bill.

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They said it includes $400 billion in spending unrelated to veterans. However, Casey said it was just a disagreement about money for the newly created Toxic Exposures fund.

“You want to have the funding available, Casey said. “You don’t want to say we’re going to help x number of veterans one year and then the next year, when the number grows say sorry we can’t help you.”

Casey is focusing on looking forward and enforcing the new law.

“We got to make sure the VA does its job this year, next year, five years from now, 10 years from now,” he said.

Robinson said he hopes this serves as a lesson to the government and the military.

“I hope that…they will dispose of their garbage a lot more responsibly,” he said.

Toomey was one of 11 senators who voted against the final version of the bill. His amendment to fix what he called the “budget gimmick” — the $400 billion — was not included.

President Biden is expected to sign the PACT Act into law Monday.

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