Before turning to today’s agenda, I want to say a few words about the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act, which would provide health care for veterans and their families who were stationed at Camp Lejeune when the water was contaminated with known or probable known human carcinogens. I am very pleased that we have made progress on this bill in recent weeks, and I hope it will soon pass, so we can finally provide these veterans and their families with the care they need and deserve.
That's Senator Richard Burr who is Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. And he declared that in his opening remarks at this morning's Committee hearing.
If you've read my site for long, you know Senator Burr's been championing this issue forever. You may not be aware that he's been championing it since before I started this site. He's fought for those survivors.
If you're new to the issue, you can refer to this website started by Marines and family members. If you'd like video, Katie Couric made it a 2007 Notebook topic so click here to watch her CBS News video.
After all these years, it might finally be truly addressed.
And if it seems like I am putting a lot of weight on a maybe, I will note that when the hearing closed, Committee Chair Patty Murray made a point to mention the issue:
I am optimistic that by the time of the next mark-up the President is going to be signing into law the Honoring of America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 which includes legislation from our last mark-up. Veterans legislation obviously continues to be bi-partisan and that is at it should be. So I want to thank all the members of our Committee.
Which is really good news. Earlier today, Mike Manger (GovExec) reported:
The largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast appears to be the site of the biggest water-contamination case in history, with more than a million people potentially exposed to carcinogens such as TCE and benzene from the 1950s to 1985, when the poisoned wells were shut down.
Evidence is mounting that hundreds, if not thousands, of cancer cases, birth defects, and other serious illnesses may be linked to degreasing fluids that were dumped on the ground and petrochemicals that spilled from fuel tanks at the coastal base over many years. The deadly chemicals often ended up seeping through the sandy soil and into the aquifer that supplied drinking water.
The government’s response to the problems—which many victims of the contamination say has been characterized by stonewalling—is now in its 27th year. And patience among the affected Marines is running very, very thin.
Maybe next month, the bill will finally be signed into law.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"