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Testimony of Representative Thomas J. Downey before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, July 22, 1980

In 1980, while Congress was seeking to understand the effects of Agent Orange, Representative Thomas J. Downey of New York testified before Congress that he had been deluged with calls and letters from veterans on the Agent Orange issue. Many reported abnormal health conditions, which they attributed to exposure to the herbicide during the Vietnam War.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Testimony of Representative Thomas J. Downey before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, July 22, 1980

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.