(The Hill) – Comedian and former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart slammed Republican senators Thursday after they blocked the passage of a bill that would expand health care coverage for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins during their service.
Speaking to a gaggle of reporters in Washington, D.C., Stewart said that veterans made the trek to the nation’s capital to see the legislation get passed.
“Yeah, just it’s — it just makes the gut punch that much more devastating is that these people all came down here so that they could finally tell the men,” Stewart said, becoming visibly emotional. “Their constituents are dying.”
All 50 Democrats and eight Republicans voted for the Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act. However, the bill fell short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to overcome the legislative filibuster.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) claimed the bill would create $400 billion in discretionary spending, labeling it a “budgetary gimmick.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) hit back at Toomey, claiming that the Republican had an issue with spending money on veterans.
“If you have the guts to send somebody to war, then you better have the guts to take care of them when they get home,” Tester said.
The House of Representatives passed the PACT Act earlier this month after the Senate initially passed it 84-14. The bill would add close to two dozen burn pit exposure conditions to the Department of Veterans Affairs database, and expand the coverage for 9/11 victims exposed to the pits. It would also expand care for veterans exposed to Agent Orange during service outside Vietnam.
Stewart, who has previously advocated for 9/11 first responders, said the GOP blocking the bill is a “disgrace.”
“We’re gonna get it done. … You don’t tell their cancer to take a recess, tell their cancer to stay home and go visit their families. This is a disgrace,” he concluded before walking away. “If this is America first, America is f—–.”