Bill authorizing PFC health study heading to Trump’s desk
A military spending bill that authorizes $7 million for a health study on U.S. citizens exposed to the toxic chemicals PFOS and PFOA, as well as tens of millions of dollars in cleanup funds, is headed for President Donald Trump’s desk for signing. Whether the measures actually will be funded remains an open question.
A health study could include residents of Bucks and Montgomery counties who were exposed to the chemicals in drinking water after they were used in firefighting foams at nearby military bases.
As previously reported by this news organization, the military’s annual budget is decided by two key bills: The National Defense Authorization Act helps stipulate where funds should go and provides a legal framework, while an annual military appropriations bill opens the purse strings.
A contingent of local lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Pat Toomey, R-Allentown, as well as U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8, Middletown, Brendan Boyle, D-13, Philadelphia, and Pat Meehan, R-7, Upper Darby, worked to include several measures related to PFOS and PFOA in this year’s authorization act. Those measures survived a conference between the two chambers last week, and a final bill was approved by both the House and Senate this week.
“The (health) study is a strong step in efforts to ensure that appropriate exposures assessments related to any possible contamination in drinking water are completed,” Toomey said Thursday.
The military has accepted responsibility for widespread contamination of drinking water in Horsham, Warminster and Warrington.
In a press release, Boyle also celebrated the bill’s passage.
“The legislation will provide new funding for environmental cleanup; community support; investigations into the health effects of these polluting chemicals; and a transition to safer, effective alternatives to these firefighting foams,” Boyle said.
On Thursday, news outlet Reuters cited Republican leadership in stating that Trump is expected to sign the authorization act. However, actual funding through the appropriations bill could prove a trickier task.
While the NDAA authorizes $634 billion in base military spending, only $549 billion is allowed under controls set in a 2011 Budget Control Act, Reuters reported. Lifting such a cap could prove tricky, particularly in the closely divided Senate, where Democrats may push back on increasing military spending without an increase in spending on domestic programs as well.