Comedian and activist Jon Stewart pulled no punches in a National Report appearance on conservative network Newsmax as he called out Republicans' lack of real support for veterans and servicemembers.
Stewart's criticism came after 42 GOP Senators organized to sabotage the PACT ACT in retaliation against Democrats moving forward on climate action and healthcare without the Republicans.
The PACT ACT or Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act would provide funding to help veterans exposed to a variety of toxins while serving in the United States military. These toxins include the Vietnam era defoliant Agent Orange and burn pits used to dispose of medical and chemical waste in combat zones.
Newsmax anchor Shaun Kraisman gave Stewart relatively free reign to lambaste the GOP after welcoming him to National Report.
Stewart began by calling the Republican effort to block the bill "abject cruelty."
"This is abject cruelty to vote against this bill. It's already passed 84 to 16. There was just a minor technical fix that had to be done on it. 84 to 16 bipartisan."
"And then yesterday, 42 Republicans decided to vote against moving the amended version forward, but the amendment was only one sentence, and it was not a material amendment."
"They've created distractions and hypocrisy."
Newsmax's Kraisman responded:
"So the Republicans, when you say what you said, they do not support veterans. The Republicans push back saying there is unrelated spending within this."
"It’s not, it’s just not true."
“What they’re saying is they don’t like that it’s mandatory as opposed to discretionary. There is no unrelated spending to it."
"They’re saying there could be if there wasn’t oversight. But that’s what the Senate’s job is."
Stewart—who also fought for help for first responders exposed to toxins after 9/11—continued:
"The bill itself is incredibly detailed and prescriptive about what it’s for. It’s about treating and preventing the different conditions that veterans are coming home with, including cancers and chronic bronchiolitis, and all these other issues from their exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan."
"And to push back on what they’re saying, they’re saying, what if this creates a slush fund? Right. So are you familiar with something called the OCO, the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund?"
"So every year, 50 billion, 60 billion, $70 billion is added to what’s called the OCO on top of the 600 billion, 700 billion, 800 billion that goes to the Defense Department. That OCO fund is actually a slush fund, 60 to $70 billion every year.
"No oversight, no guardrails."
Calling out Republican fiscal hypocrisy, Stewart said:
"They'll spend trillions of dollars on these wars, but they will not spend the money on the consequences of those wars to the individuals who fought in them."
"Every one of those Republicans that voted against healthcare for veterans voted for the slush fund for the war."
"They don't support the troops. They support the war machine. And that's got to stop."
"The value in the U.S. military isn’t in the toys. It’s not in the hardware. It’s not in the tanks."
"It’s in the men and women."
"And until [Republicans] start supporting them in the manner that they purport to online... Yeah. They are hypocrites."
The comedian turned advocate added:
"[Veterans] lived up to their promise to us."
"They fought for this country and they fought for us."
"And we have to defend them now."
You can watch the entire Newsmax National Report segment with Stewart here:
After his appearance on Newsmax, Stewart went on to tell MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan Fox News refused to allow him on their network. Hasan had asked if GOP actions against veterans would affect them at the polls.
In response, Stewart called out the right-wing "information silo" that keeps conservative voters uninformed.
Fox News later invited Stewart to appear on their network.
Whether the retaliatory act by Republican Senators—targeting sick veterans to get back at Democrats—impacts their 2022 midterm success remains to be seen.