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H.R. 1961, Veterans' Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act as first introduced, March 8, 1983

Representative Thomas Daschle of South Dakota, a Vietnam-era veteran, introduced the first Agent Orange legislation in 1983. Through amendments and other acts, Congress required the Veterans Administration to continue research on herbicide exposure, treat and compensate disabled veterans, and establish an advisory committee on environmental hazards of military service.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

H.R. 1961, Veterans' Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act as first introduced, March 8, 1983 H.R. 1961, Veterans' Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act as first introduced, March 8, 1983

Congress Investigates Agent Orange

In the late 1970s Congress began to address the effects of exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used by the United States military during the Vietnam War. Congressional committees interviewed Vietnam veterans and consulted medical experts to explore possible links between Agent Orange and certain forms of cancer and other health problems. After experts confirmed the product was harmful to humans, Congress mandated the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct further research on consequences of Agent Orange exposure and passed laws providing benefits to injured veterans.