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Protesters want action on a healthcare bill for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals

Susan Zeier, mother-in-law of the late Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson, hugs Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) during Thursday's news conference.
Drew Angerer
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Getty Images
Susan Zeier, mother-in-law of the late Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson, hugs Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) during Thursday's news conference.

Protesters spent Sunday night on the steps of the U.S capital as a bill that expands health care benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other harmful chemicals remains locked in Congress.

It is named after Ohio veteran Heath Robinson. Robinson served in Iraq with the Ohio Army National Guard. Robinson passed away from stage four lung cancer in 2020 from exposure to burn pits.

Susan Zeier, Robinson’s mother-in-law, camped outside the capital building with other protesters awaiting passage of the bill. Zeier reposted a video of herself on Twitter Sunday night from advocate Davig Hogg, who met with veterans and their families.

“There's nothing in it for us," Zeier said. "I just want, and what Heath wanted, we don’t want to see any other families suffer like we did.”

Zeier said the group was told that a cloture vote may happen tomorrow. The plan is to stay for as long as it takes.

Susan Zeier
Susan Zeier shares the scene outside the capital as fellow protesters await action on the PACT Act.

"Yeah, we're standing out here we want the senators to know they shouldn't be going home for the summer break until they get this thing done," Zeier said.

If the bill passes, Zeier adds that she and her daughter will be in attendance when president Joe Biden signs the bill.

The Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act passed in June with support from both parties, but a technical error required a re-vote. Last Wednesday, 25 republicans changed their vote.

Tyler Thompson was a reporter and on-air host for 89.7 NPR News. Thompson, originally from northeast Ohio, has spent the last three years working as a Morning Edition host and reporter at NPR member station KDLG Public Radio and reporter at the Bristol Bay Times Newspaper in Dillingham, Alaska.