Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” comedian and activist Jon Stewart reacted to Senate Republicans blocking a bill that would have granted health care coverage to veterans suffering from exposure to toxic burn pits during their service.
The Honoring Our PACT Act passed the Senate on a bipartisan 84-14 vote in June but failed to pass again in the Senate after undergoing changes in the House.
Stewart said it was “despicable” to watch the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) celebrate the blockage of the bill “because of a “budget gimmick that would allow $400 billion of current law spending to be moved from the discretionary to the mandatory spending category.”
“Did Ted Cruz and all those other Republicans who voted ‘yes’ on this bill and then switched their vote to ‘no,’ was that the provision of how the bill was paid for when they voted ‘yes?'” Stewart asked. “Now Toomey, on the other hand, he’s been against this all along, so at least he’s been a consistent dick, but … this is nothing new. This is how it was paid for. The fix in the House was a tiny constitutional provision. This is the same bill that they passed.”
“And by the way, all that nonsense that Toomey says about $400 billion of a slush fund that opens the door to that possibility, you know who can close that door? The Senate and the House because they have the power of appropriation,” he continued. “So, there is no $400 billion slush fund. And if he was against slush funds, maybe he wouldn’t have voted for the $60-$70 billion overseas operations contingency fund that they vote for every year, above and beyond the Defense Department spending. They always have money for the war with no guardrails and no oversight, but all of a sudden, they get religion on a health care bill for veterans.”
“And I’ll say this,” Stewart added. “The most despicable part of this whole thing is watching on the Senate floor Ted Cruz fist-bumping and then patting each other on the back when they blocked this bill, Josh Hawley and Pat Toomey celebrating their victory over veterans with cancer. Way to go, guys. You finally handed it to big veteran with cancer. Well done. They’re lying about the provision that they’re talking about. They’re trying to make it sound dangerous. The whole place down there is a shell-game of mandatory and discretionary spending.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to Stewart:
“Senator Cruz is a strong supporter of the PACT Act and our nation’s veterans. However, this version of the PACT Act contains an irresponsible Democratic provision allowing Congress to recklessly spend an additional $400 billion on programs totally unrelated to our veterans. The Senator and his Republican colleagues are working to advance the bill while removing that provision. Democrats were aware of this concern before yesterday’s vote but ignored it and refused to allow a vote to fix the bill. That refusal is why the bill is currently stalled. Democrats must work with Republicans and fix this issue to prevent inflationary spending that will hurt all Americans. Once that happens, the PACT Act will quickly become law.”
Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent