​​Jon Stewart Blasts GOP over Vote Against PACT Act for Veterans: 'Cowards, All of Them'

"This is an embarrassment to the Senate, to the country, to the founders and all that they profess to hold dear," the former The Daily Show host said in a press conference on Thursday

Jon Stewart is making his voice heard.

At a press conference outside the Capitol on Thursday, Stewart, 59, criticized the 42 Republican senators who voted against the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, legislation that would have extended health care benefits to veterans who have been exposed to toxins from burn pits, Rolling Stone reported.

On Wednesday, the bill failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate with 55 yeas, Deadline reported. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill, while the rest voted against. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer switched his yea vote to a nay at the last moment in order to allow a future vote on the legislation, CNN reports.

"Ain't this a b---?" Stewart began his remarks. "America's heroes, who fought in our wars, outside sweating their asses off battling all kinds of ailments while these mother f---- sit in the air conditioning, walled off from any of it." He added, "They don't have to hear, they don't have to see it, they don't have to understand that these are human beings."

The former TV host continued, "These are men and women, husbands and fathers, sisters and brothers — but we just let stand outside in the heat when they can't breathe."

Jon Stewart
Michael Reaves/Getty

After calling out specific senators, including Sen. Rick Scott from Florida and Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, Stewart said he's "used to the cowardice."

"These people don't care," the comedian said. "They're never losing their jobs, they're never losing their health care." He continued, holding back tears, "I'm used to all of it, but I am not used to cruelty."

"[The veterans] lived up to their oath and yesterday they spit on it," Steward said, pointing to the Capitol. "These people thought they could finally breathe."

He said, "You think they're struggles end because the PACT Act passes? All it means is that they don't have to decide between their cancer drugs and their house." He added, "Their struggle continues. Gives them health care, gives them benefits, lets them live."

"But this type of cruelty on those that we say are we hold up to our most valued Americans, then what are?" he asked.

Stewart also called out those who previously voted for the PACT Act in June in a 84-14 vote, yet now 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, according to Rolling Stone. 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," Stewart said directed to outgoing Sen. Pat Toomey, "You support the war machine." He added, "They haven't met a war they don't sign up for and they haven't met a veteran they won't screw over."

"Cowards, all of them," Stewart said succinctly.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

"This is an embarrassment to the Senate, to the country, to the founders and all that they profess to hold dear," Stewart said.

"If this is America First," he said, "then America is f-----."

The bill would have aided more than 3 million veterans and 9/11 first responders who were exposed to toxins found in burn bits and chemicals like Agent Orange, Rolling Stone reported. The bill also removed requirements for veterans to prove their illnesses had been caused by on-duty exposure to toxins.

Related Articles