Jon Stewart has called on the US Senate to remain in session for as long as it takes to pass burn pits legislation in an impassioned speech on the steps of the US Capitol this week.
The comedian and activist turned up the heat on Republicans ahead of a second vote on The PACT Act, which provides healthcare for veterans exposed to burn pits, on Monday night.
Speaking to a group of veterans who have been camped out for days in Washington DC, Stewart said the Senators shouldn’t be allowed to leave the building until the bill had passed.
“My suggestion to this Senate would be when you come back, if all the members aren’t here, keep the lights on, keep the doors open, and don’t leave here tonight until you do the right thing by these folks.”
The host of The Problem with Jon Stewart has been on a media blitz in recent days, appearing on all of the cable news channels and filming viral social media videos attacking the Republican senators who blocked passage of the bill last week by name.
Stewart has himself become a target. Senator Pat Toomey recently called him a “pseudo celebrity” on CNN’s State of the Nation and Fox News host Jesse Watters suggested he should stick to farming.
Jon Stewart at protest in support of the bill providing health care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits:
“I get it: I am a liberal piece of shit…I’m Hunter Biden’s cocaine dealer…But the VFW isn’t…and the Wounded Warriors Project isn’t, so why are they standing here?” pic.twitter.com/b5MugIOZtP
— The Recount (@therecount) August 1, 2022
In his speech on Monday, Stewart joked that the right was trying to smear him as “Hunter Biden’s cocaine dealer” and “more gay pride flag than man”.
“You can attack me all you want. And you can troll me online…. but here’s the beautiful thing, I don’t give as**t. I’m not scared of you. And I don’t care,” he said, before gesturing to the veterans standing behind him. “Because these are the people that I owe a debt of gratitude to, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to. And it’s about time we start paying it off.”
The PACT Act easily passed the Senate by 84 votes to 14 in June, but was voted down last week after some changes were made to the legislation in the House.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz accused Mr Stewart of misrepresenting the bill, saying that Democrats were attempting a “budgetary trick” of including $400bn in spending unrelated to veterans.
“What Ted Cruz is describing is inaccurate, not true, bulls***t”, Stewart said in a video posted on Twitter, mocking Mr Cruz for saying that the Democrats put “discretionary” funds in the legislation that they made “mandatory” .
Footage of Mr Cruz fist-bumping Montana Senator Steve Daines on the Senate floor after the bill was blocked provoked outrage, and was seized on as proof the Republicans were playing politics with veterans’ lives.