EXPLAINER: How health care for vets became fight in Congress

Veterans, military family members and advocates are joined by activist Jon Stewart as they call for Senate Republicans to change their votes on a bill designed to help millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Aug. 1, 2021. A bill that enhances health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits has hit a snag in the Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A bill that would enhance health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits hit a snag in the Senate last week, angering advocates like comedian Jon Stewart who say help from the government is long overdue.

Lawmakers have been hearing increasingly from constituents with respiratory illnesses and cancers that they attribute to serving near burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military used the pits to dispose of such things as chemicals, cans, tires, plastics and medical and human waste.

Veterans groups say servicemembers who were exposed to the pits have waited long enough for enhanced health benefits, and lawmakers largely agree. The Senate is ultimately expected to send the measure to President Joe Biden's desk. It's just a question of when.

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