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Congressman Raul Ruiz

Representing the 36th District of California

Dr. Ruiz’s Bipartisan Bill to Help Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Passes House

March 5, 2019
Press Release
The bipartisan Burn Pits Registry Enhancement Act now heads to the Senate where it already has bipartisan support from Senators Udall and Sullivan

PALM DESERT, CA — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1381, the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act, the first burn pits-related legislation to pass the House or Senate in 2019. 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 pits 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 burn pits.

“Today the House passed my bipartisan Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act, a crucial win for our veterans exposed to toxic burn pits,” said Dr. Ruiz, Co-Chair of the Burn Pits Caucus. “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.”

“As an Iraq War veteran, I am familiar with the use of burn pits in theater and understand the potential harm burn pits 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 burn pits, so we can better serve those with service-related illnesses,” said Congressman Brad Wenstrup, Co-Chair of the Burn Pits Caucus.

 

Background

Last week, Congressman Ruiz announced that for the first time ever, 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.

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