Senators demand VA explain delayed burn pit registry

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) questioned the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) delay in creating the Open Air Burn Pit Registry.

The senators wrote to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki Tuesday demanding answers on why the VA hasn’t followed the law, which gave them one year to develop an open burn pit registry of service members and veterans exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes from open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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“This delay is deeply concerning, particularly when similar registries exist within the United States government,” Corker and Udall wrote. “The lack of urgency and communication from the VA is even more troubling. Our veterans, Congress, and the public deserve to know why the Open Air Burn Pit Registry has been delayed and when it will be completed.”

President Obama signed a provision into law more than one year ago that required the completion of the registry by Jan. 10. Corker and Udall said since the VA hasn’t followed the law, it should at least give Congress an explanation. 

“In an effort to address this failure, we ask that you provide Congress with information on the current status of the Open Air Burn Pit Registry, an accounting of problems that have arisen during the development of the registry, detailed information on remaining benchmarks to be completed before the Open Air Burn Pit Registry will become fully operational, and any information on how Congress can help to expedite the implementation of this critical program,” the letter stated.

It’s unclear how many service members have health problems after being exposed to toxic burn pits, which is why lawmakers wanted to start the registry.

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