Comedian and veterans rights advocate Jon Stewart tore into Republican senators on Thursday, after the party blocked legislation that would have extended health care benefits to veterans, including those exposed to toxins from burn pits. “If this is America First,” he said, “then America is fucked.”
At a press conference outside of the U.S. Capitol Thursday, Stewart savaged the 41 Republican senators who voted against the Honoring Our PACT Act. The bill would have expanded healthcare benefits for more than 3 million veterans and 9/11 first responders who were exposed to toxins like those found in burn bits, and chemicals like Agent Orange. The bill also removed requirements for veterans to prove their illnesses had been caused by on-duty exposure to toxins.
“Ain’t this a bitch?” railed Stewart. “America’s heroes, who fought in our wars, outside sweating their asses off, while these mother fuckers sit in the air conditioning, walled off from any of it.” Calling the Republican caucus “cowards,” Stewart added that he is “used to all of it, but I am not used to cruelty.”
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Stewart lambasted Republicans who had previously voted for the PACT Act in June in a 84-14 vote, yet now claimed opposition to a “budgetary gimmick.” (The current bill is essentially identical, but for a few technical fixes passed by the House.)
The former Daily Show host, who has dedicated much of his time to advocating for veterans and first responders, slammed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and called Senator Pat Toomey a “fucking coward,” after they claimed they would not support the bill because it created a “slush fund” for discretionary spending. The $300 billion allocation, set to have been distributed over 10 years, was present in the original version of the bill.
In response, Stewart noted Republicans’ uncritical support for expansions of defense spending, which is set to top $800 billion next year alone.
“You don’t support the troops. You support the war machine,” Stewart said. “They haven’t met a war they won’t sign up for and they haven’t met a veteran they won’t screw over.”
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