It was a “thumbs up” for veterans who came to Capitol Hill to celebrate the legislation, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democrats, and comedian and activist Jon Stewart railed against Senate Republicans who voted against legislation to help veterans with illnesses related to toxic combustion fireplaces.
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“So it’s not a bitch?” Stewart said Thursday during a press conference on Capitol Hill. “America’s heroes, who fought our wars, sweating outside, with oxygen fighting all kinds of ills, while these motherfuckers sit in the air conditioning sheltered from it all? They don’t have They don’t have to hear it. They don’t have to see it. They don’t have to understand that they’re human beings. Did you ever understand that?”
And if America comes first, he continued, “America is screwed.”
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Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted against the bill after assuring veterans that “we’ll get there,” was accused by Stewart of lying to them. Even Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who had resigned at the end of his tenure, came in for some criticism from Stewart.
A loss of employment was avoided for Pat Toomey. Says Stewart, “He just leaves. To put pressure on this government to shit on more people, God only knows what type of pot of gold he is walking into. It’s all become routine to me, but I’ve never gotten used to cruelty.
“Senator Toomey won’t listen because he’s too much of a coward to sit with this man. Can you hear me now?” declared Stewart.
On the eve of the press conference, Stewart said off camera, “What makes the punchline even more heartbreaking is that these people all came here so they could finally inform the guys.”
After Stewart criticized Toomey, Toomey said, “It’s not worth addressing.” He called “absurd” the idea that Democrats’ separate agreement on a reconciliation package was the impetus for the opposition to the original bill.
When asked about Stewart’s comments, a McConnell spokesman referred reporters to the senator’s remarks from Thursday morning. Senator McConnell stated his agreement with the “content of the plan,” but he criticized the Democratic leader for trying to prevent “any semblance of a fair amendment process” in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the bill’s current wording “may potentially allow Democrats to effectively spend the same money twice and allow hundreds of billions in unrelated new expenditure on the discretionary side of the federal budget.”
The Senate voted in favor of the proposal by an overwhelming 84-14 margin back in June, but on Wednesday night, Senate Republicans voted decisively to block a procedural vote that would have ended the debate on the bill, including 25 Republican senators who supported the original bill but voted against the procedural measure that would have brought it one step closer to ultimate passage.
“This is total bullshit,” said Democratic Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York. “This is the worst form of overt politicization I have ever seen. It’s total BS. We have the votes.
When asked about her plans for Thursday, Gillibrand said she would seek unanimous permission “as many times as needed to get this back on the floor.”
“We had strong bipartisan support for this bill. And at the 11th hour, Senator Toomey decides he wants to rewrite the bill,” she said.
The bill is named after the late Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, and on Wednesday night, his mother-in-law, Susan Zeier, reached out to Republican senators who voted against the bill.
According to Zeier, “Senator Rob Portman was the senator for Heath.”
“They don’t care about veterans. And as someone once said, everyone has pictures with veterans on their Facebook pages on their website; that’s because they don’t support veterans. If you voted against this bill, you are not supporting veterans,” she said. “I’m done. And the next time I come back here, it’ll be better if I sign this fucking bill in the White House.“
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