Jon Stewart took to the podium on Thursday blast Senate Republicans for voting against the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or PACT Act, after it failed to pass in the Senate last night. The vote was viewed as a mere formality before making its way to President Joe Biden for his signature.
Introduced in 2021, the PACT Act sought to expand health care coverage for veterans who were exposed to the smoke emitted from burn pits during their service. Burn pits have been used for decades by the U.S. military as a means of disposing a wide variety of waste. The Post and Courierreports an estimated 3.5 million veterans have been deployed over the last three decades to areas where burn pits were nearby.
Between 2007 and 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs denied nearly 80 percent of burn pit exposure claims, per The Post and Courier. According to Military Times, one in five veterans living in America today could be affected by exposure to these potentially toxic fumes.
In June, the Senate voted 84-14 in favor of passing the PACT Act, and was sent back to the House to undergo some minor provisions. Before returning to the Senate, the House passed it again, 342-88. On Wednesday, the measure fell five votes short of reaching the required 60 votes, as 25 Republican Senators reversed course, citing their opposition to a particular provision.
“We really expected yesterday to be a procedural vote that would go with easy passage,” Jeremy Butler, CEO of the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization, said, per NBC News. “That was the absolute expectation.”
Stewart called out Florida Sen. Rick Scott for voting against the PACT Act one day after posting a tweet where he was pictured handing out care packages at a USO event. In addition to Scott, the former Daily Show host criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey for voting against the measure due to what the latter lawmaker said includes a “budget gimmick” which contained an “additional $400 billion in future discretionary spending completely unrelated to veterans.”
Stewart accused Toomey and other Republican Senators of supporting outlandish spending towards the defense budget without putting up much of a fight. “Did Pat Toomey stand up and say, ‘This is irresponsible. The guardrails! No. Not one of them did,” he said. “They vote for it year after year after year. You don’t support the troops. You support the war machine.”
Watch Stewart’s impassioned, profanity-laden speech up top.