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Hagel pledges to help Camp Lejeune victims

Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense, said Thursday that he’s committed to providing Marines answers about water contamination that occurred at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

If confirmed, he pledged to work to overcome bureaucratic hurdles that may obstruct findings about the impact of the contamination on Marines and their family members.

Burr and Miller to appear in Raleigh for Camp Lejeune film screening

Democratic Rep. Brad Miller and Republican Sen. Richard Burr will speak at the screening of "Semper Fi: Always Faithful'' at the N.C. Museum of History on Tuesday.

The film chronicles the effort by Marine Sgt. Jerry Ensminger to uncover one of the largest groundwater contaminations in history at Marine CropsBase Camp Lejeune. Ensminger's nine-year old daughter died of a rare leukemia.

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. And Miller and Burr are scheduled to make remarks at 8:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign a bill into law Monday that seeks to provide hospital care and medical coverage for certain illnesses linked to toxic chemicals in the water for Camp Lejeune Marines and their families.

Obama to sign Lejeune bill at Oval Office signing ceremony

President Obama will sign a bill on Monday to give health care to thousands of sick Marine veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, according to a White House official.

The signing will occur during a signing ceremony at the Oval Office. The time of the ceremony and guest lists have not been released.

Jerry Ensminger, who helped lead the fight to get health care for those who were exposed said he was invited and plans to attend. Part of the bill is named after his daughter who died of a rare form of leukemia in 1985 at the age of 9.

"It’s been a long time coming" Ensminger said. "But like I said before, this is not the end. I got a lot of kick left. I want the truth. There is still a lot we're not being told."

Morning Roundup: Perdue highlights federal budget impact in N.C.

The building drumbeat of companies seeking to protect their Pentagon revenues is building at a North Carolina event opposing more than $1 trillion in budget cuts slashing both domestic and defense programs, AP reports

Aerospace and defense industry executives are meeting in Cary on Wednesday to draw attention to the cuts looming at the end of the year unless Congress acts. Gov. Bev Perdue adds that the cuts also are poised to harm schools and other domestic priorities. Read more on today's event here.

More political news:

--Democratic convention organizers rounded out their headline speakers Tuesday with a lineup designed to amplify President Barack Obama’s campaign message while firing up his base. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will be the party’s first Latino keynoter. He’ll speak Tuesday night, Sept. 4, just after first lady Michelle Obama.

Morning Roundup: Demint, Burr at odds in intraparty squabble

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint is squaring off against North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr in an intraparty fight that threatens federal legislation on water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

The legislation has languished for years was expected to be voted on in the full Senate this week under an across-the-aisle deal between the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. But a South Carolina senator has blocked the bill, saying he worries about fraud. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--Election night wrap: All eyes turn to November, where Republicans have a good chance of claiming Republican strongholds. Robert Pittenger wins a bitter race in the 8th District and Richard Hudson cruises to victory in the 9th District

Elizabeth Dole calls inaction on Camp Lejeune water problems 'unconscionable'

Former GOP U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole penned an opinion piece in today's News & Observer that calls inaction on water contamination at Camp Lejeune "unconscionable and indefensible."

She also applauds the work of Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic Congressman Brad Miller for their legislation to provide medical care to those who suffered health problems after drinking contaminated water. Read the piece here.

Burr expects action on Lejeune water bill

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr expects his legislation to help victims of Camp Lejeune’s water contamination will get a vote in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this month.

If it passes, the vote would mark the farthest the bill has gotten in the past two years. Burr, the top Republican on the panel, has worked to get other senators behind his Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act with little success.

The bill would require the Veteran Affairs Department to offer health care both to veterans and their family members if they lived at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1987 and have illnesses associated with the toxic water. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat.

Both the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments oppose the legislation. Some veterans organizations have concerns too, saying it could take money from existing needs.

“We have to overcome some of the obstacles out there if we intend to get it out of the U.S. Senate, but I think we can do that,” Burr said in an interview today.

Lejeune documentary headed to Tribeca

A documentary about the historic water contamination at Camp Lejeune will have its world premier this spring at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

“Semper Fi: Always Faithful” tracks the evolution of Marine veteran Jerry Ensminger into an environmentalist after the death of his young daughter, Janey, from leukemia in 1985.

Ensminger, a former drill instructor from White Lake helped uncover voluminous details about the extent of contamination that poisoned the drinking water at Camp Lejeune for decades. A million people are believed to have been exposed to the water. Thousands, like Ensminger, suspect the illnesses suffered by themselves and their family members were caused by the poisons.

The movie’s directors, Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, have spent at least two years working on the film.

Tribeca announced today that “Semper Fi” will be among a dozen films in its World Documentary Competition. The movie festival takes place from April 20 to May 1.

Burr submits Lejeune health bill

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr has resubmitted legislation aiming to give health care to Marine veterans and their family members who suffered from historic water contamination at Marines Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Burr’s bill, the “Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act,” would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health care to both veterans and their family members for illnesses associated with exposure to the poisoned drinking water. It is his first bill in the 112th Congress. Burr also submitted the bill in the last Congress.

Steele rallies the Republicans

GOP RALLY: National Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele came to the state capital Thursday to talk up local GOP candidates for the U.S. House and dismiss talk of party divisions. About 70 cheering supporters waited outside state Republican headquarters to greet Steele on one of the first stops of his national "Fire Pelosi" bus tour. (N&O)

WATER WOES: In the decades that poisonous chemicals tainted the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, hundreds of thousands of Marines filed through the base. But just 200 veterans have asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to link their illnesses to the poisons they once drank. Of those, just 20 have been told "yes." (N&O)

SBI WATCHDOG: State legislators attacked the credibility of a laboratory accreditation group that gave the State Bureau of Investigation its seal of approval during years in which blood analysts withheld critical test results. (N&O)
 

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