Once again a blowback to asshole Republicans on Capitol Hill and their nasty, cruel approach to everything was on display this morning — in the shadow of the Manchin/Schumer agreement from yesterday, Senate GOPers retaliated and voted against much-needed health care for America’s military veterans, acting the spoiled-baby bitch.
Just to show that petty, asshole side to being asshole Republicans, the veterans’ benefits bill seemed a shoo-in — per Military Times yesterday afternoon:
A surprise deal on health care and environmental policies announced by Senate Democratic leaders Wednesday afternoon produced an unexpected casualty: the comprehensive toxic exposure legislation veterans advocates expected to pass this week.
The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act — better known as the PACT Act — had been up for a procedural vote in the chamber with an expectation of final passage before the end of the week.
The measure is the culmination of years of work by advocates to improve health care and benefits for veterans suffering injuries from burn pit smoke, Agent Orange spraying and other military contaminant exposure. It has been widely celebrated as a potential landmark legislative victory in veterans policy.
The measure passed the Senate by a comfortable 84-14 vote in early June, and by a 342-88 vote in the House two weeks ago with significant Republican support.
But on Wednesday, after technical corrections sent the measure back to the Senate for another procedural vote, 41 Senate Republicans blocked the measure, leaving its future uncertain.
This morning, Jon Stewart was rightly pissed:
Stewart: America’s heroes who fought in our wars outside sweating their asses off.. while these motherfuckers sit in the air conditioning.. pic.twitter.com/aLdaZNShjL
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 28, 2022
I’ve always enjoyed Stewart, he seems a decent fellow, and as always, calls a shitheel a shitheel — from The Daily Beast this morning:
The comedian and former host of The Daily Show has long been an advocate for veterans, and played a key role in amplifying their fight to secure better health care to veterans sick and dying because of their exposure to toxins.
Speaking to press outside the Senate on Thursday, Stewart laced into Republicans for blocking the bill. “How are these people human?” Stewart asked. “Where’s any sense of decency, from any of them?”
The fact that veterans and their families were anticipating a victory they’d worked to secure for so long, said an emotional Stewart, “makes the gut punch that much more devastating.”
Stewart saved particular venom for Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)—who voiced the last-minute GOP reservations about a bill that many of them had already voted for—calling him a “coward.”
It’s unclear exactly why Republicans abruptly reversed their positions on the bill, but the timing of the flip-flop provides the most obvious clue. Hours before the vote on Wednesday, Senate Democrats announced an agreement on a major economic and climate policy package.
Previously, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pledged to block a bipartisan technology investment bill if Democrats moved forward with their party-line package. When that tech bill passed earlier on Wednesday—hours before the agreement was announced—McConnell and the GOP seemed to be caught flat-footed.
A leading supporter of the PACT Act, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), told The Daily Beast he didn’t know 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 separate press conference, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the key swing Democrat who brokered the deal with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), was more blunt.
“Republicans now are basically holding the veterans hostage because they’re mad,” Manchin said.
A fuming Stewart said that veterans put their lives on the line to “defend [senators’] right to this fuckery.”
At the press conference afterward, Democratic lawmaker after lawmaker pledged to not leave for the Senate’s summer recess until passing the legislation.
What is not an option for lawmakers, Stewart said, is to fall into the Capitol Hill rhythm of procrastinating on important bills when it’s easier to pass them.
“Senate time is ridiculous. These motherfuckers live to 200. They’re tortoises. They live forever and they never lose their jobs and they never lose their benefits and they never lose all those things,” Stewart said.
Veterans, Stewart continued, don’t have time.
“Their 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, adding one more line before he walked away from the cameras: “If this is America First, America is fucked.”
We are indeed, and on so many levels and fronts. And Manchin? What a tone-deaf asshole.
And Stewart is in the shadow of the late-great George Carlin and his ‘The Truth About Republicans,’ though, more than three decades old, still pops strong in the nowadays:
Despite the actual history, here we are once again…
(Illustration out front found here.)