U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08) was among a group of lawmakers on hand today at the White House Rose Garden for President Joe Biden's bill signing ceremony for the PACT Act.
"I was proud to witness the signing of the PACT Act, which includes The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, bipartisan legislation I sponsored along with Republican Congressman Greg Murphy and Democratic Congressman David Price, both of North Carolina," said Rep. Cartwright. "The service members who signed up to defend their country and the people who supported them at Camp Lejeune were let down by their government in a big way. Having the Camp Lejeune Justice Act signed into law is an important step forward to ensure military families, civil servants and contractors can receive the benefits and health care they deserve. As the author of The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, I will continue to advocate on behalf of all military members and their families."
Over a 30-year period spanning the 1950s through the 1980s, thousands of Marines, their families, civilian workers and personnel used government provided tap water that was contaminated with harmful chemicals, found at levels ranging from 240 to 3,400 times the levels permitted by safety standards. These exposures likely increased the risk of cancers, such as renal cancer, multiple myeloma, leukemia and more. It also likely raised their risk of adverse birth outcomes, along with other negative health effects. Although the exact number of Camp Lejeune water contamination victims will never be known, it is estimated that more than a million people were exposed, and more than 500,000 people may have devastating health effects.
"This much-needed legislation eliminates red tape and gives our veterans, their dependents, contractors, and civil servants who were exposed to toxic chemicals in drinking water at Camp Lejeune their day in court," Rep. Cartwright said.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act provisions included in the Honoring Our PACT Act will allow those who were injured because of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and their family members to file under the Federal Tort Claims Act for fair compensation. This type of claim would already be permitted anywhere else in the United States, but because of a unique provision in North Carolina law, this legislation is necessary for those harmed at Camp Lejeune to finally to seek justice.