Affordable housing for military veterans
Video

An angered Jon Stewart joined Democratic senators and military advocates to call out Republicans who voted down a bill to increase healthcare benefits for veterans.

On Wednesday, the Senate arranged the final passage of the Honoring Our PACT Act, the long-awaited legislation geared toward expanding health care for veterans who were exposed to toxins on the line of duty.

Previously, the bill had received overwhelming bipartisan support and was expected to pass easily.

However, 41 GOP senators revolted and voted down the bill once it hit the floor, which blocked its passage.

Many of those senators had already voted to advance the bill.

So instead of the military veterans, lawmakers, and other advocates gathering outside of the US Capitol to celebrate, it turned into a furious rally.

But no one was more irritated than Jon Stewart.

Sign upfor our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

The comedian and former host of The Daily Show has been a longtime advocate for veterans and played a vital role in highlighting their quest to secure better health care for veterans who are ill or dying because of sick and dying because of exposure to toxins.

While talking to the press outside the Senate on Thursday, Stewart ripped into the Republicans for blocking the bill.

"How are these people human? Where's any sense of decency from any of them?" Stewart asked.

He also said that the veterans and their families were looking forward to a victory they worked so hard to achieve, so it "makes the gut punch that much more devastating."

"If this is America First, America is f*****."The Problem With Jon Stewart/YouTube

Stewart also spewed some of his sentiments towards Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), one of the individuals to voice the last-minute GOP reservations about the bill, and called him a "coward."

It's unclear why Republicans unexpectedly reversed their positions on the bill, but the timing provides a hint.

Hours before Wednesday's vote, Senate Democrats announced an agreement on a significant economic and climate policy package.

In conversation with The Daily Beast, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), a leading supporter of the PACT Act, noted that he was unaware if Senate Republicans blocked the legislation in retaliation or to maintain some leverage.

"If they did, it's a stupid reason," Tester said.

In a different press conference, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who is the key swing Democrat who negotiated the deal with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), had a more direct response.

"Republicans now are basically holding the veterans hostage because they're mad," he said.

Stewart said veterans have placed their lives on the line to "defend [senators'] right to this f******."

At the press conference afterward, numerous Democratic lawmakers pledged not to leave for the Senate's summer recess until the legislation is passed.

Stewart said there is no option for lawmakers to fall into a rhythm of procrastinating on essential bills when they could've easily gotten a pass.

He also said that veterans' "time is precious."

"Every minute of delay is a minute that a veteran who fought for this country and their families and their caregivers suffer and die," he said.

"Tell their cancer to take a recess," he said before adding, "If this is America First, America is f*****."

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)