September 23, 2010
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
Who will you choose in November?
The leading Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – our own Senator Richard Burr – has doubts about paying medical benefits for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange. Exposure to the toxic defoliant and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War has been linked to serious heart disease, leukemia, and Parkinson’s, according to a report released last year by the Institute of Medicine and the Veterans Administration. Since then the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, announced that Vietnam Vets suffering from these ailments could receive medical care subsidized by the V.A. The policy change would cover an additional 86,000 veterans and cost an estimated $40 billion over ten years.
Now Senator Burr is questioning whether Vietnam vets still dealing with the effects of exposure to Agent Orange 35 years after combat ended should be getting care paid for by the government, telling the Army Times, “At some point we will have to look at the definition of exposure.”
As Think Progress notes, Richard Burr has no problems with the government paying to extend the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich:
While a handful of “members of Congress have balked at the price” of extending veterans compensation to ex-servicemembers suffering from the three diseases, it should be noted that the two most prominent critics of the extension — Burr and Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) — have both expressed a willingness to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Doing so would cost nearly 17 times as much as caring for veterans suffering as a result of their government’s decision to send them into battle.