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.
\u201cJon Stewart: "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"\u201d— Jason Campbell (@Jason Campbell) 1659016838
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."
\u201cJon Stewart calling out Republicans by name for blocking veterans care bill yesterday, including McConnell, Toomey, Rick Scott.\n\n\u201cI\u2019m used to the hypocrisy\u2026I\u2019m used to the lies.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe Senate is where accountability goes to die.\u201d\u201d— Igor Bobic (@Igor Bobic) 1659022259
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."
\u201c\ud83d\udd25JON STEWART ON NEWSMAX (!!) TO BLACKBURN, HAGERTY, OTHER REPUBLICANS: \u201cYou don\u2019t support the troops, you support the war machine.\u201d \n\n@jonstewart says @MarshaBlackburn @SenatorHagerty voted for billions in a slush fund, then blocked a bill for veterans exposed to burn pits. \ud83c\udfaf\u201d— The Tennessee Holler (@The Tennessee Holler) 1659039269
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."
\u201cJon Stewart says the \u201cmost despicable\u201d part of Senate Republicans blocking a bill providing health care benefits to veterans was watching them celebrate afterwards:\n\n\u201cWay to go, guys! You finally handed it to Big Veteran with Cancer! Well done!\u201d\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1659102791
"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."
\u201cJon Stewart: Republicans \u201chaven't met a war they won\u2019t sign up for and they haven\u2019t met a veteran they won\u2019t screw over.\u201d\n\nRetweet if you think Jon Stewart is right\u201d— Emily Winston (@Emily Winston) 1659102647
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.
\u201c. @jonstewart decries the way right-wing media insulates Republican viewers to keep Republican politicians from accountability. "There's an information silo."\u201d— Maddow Blog (@Maddow Blog) 1659059186
Fox News later invited Stewart to appear on their network.
\u201c\u201cThat\u2019s simply not true. Don\u2019t take my word for it. Go to https://t.co/G35KQ3kOI5. The text of the bill has not been changed.\u201d \u2014 @JonStewart on @FoxNews dismantling Republican Senator Pat Toomey\u2019s talking point that a budget gimmick was snuck into the PACT Act at the last minute.\u201d— The Problem With Jon Stewart (@The Problem With Jon Stewart) 1659107444
Whether the retaliatory act by Republican Senators—targeting sick veterans to get back at Democrats—impacts their 2022 midterm success remains to be seen.