TV host Jon Stewart and Marine Corps veteran Mindy Beyer discuss the fight to help veterans exposed to burn pits after legislation stalled in Congress on ‘America Reports.’
Comedian Jon Stewart fired back at Republican lawmakers on Tuesday for blocking the passage of a bill that would have extended health benefits to veterans exposed to burn pits and toxins during their military service.
Speaking with “America Reports” hosts Sandra Smith and John Roberts, the former “Daily Show” host criticized Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who blocked the PACT Act — which would provide millions of veterans treatment for illnesses associated with their exposure to burn pits — citing changes he said were made to the bill Republicans originally supported that would now allow $400 billion in mandatory spending unrelated to veterans over 10 years.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also took issue with the bill and accused Democrats of playing a “budgetary trick” with the last-minute provision.
Veterans and their families camped outside of the U.S. Capitol urge the Senate to pass the burn pits, PACT Act.
(Kelly Laco/Fox News Digital)
Stewart disputed their claims, insisting that “not one word” was added to the copy of the bill that was passed in an 84–14 Senate vote in June. One sentence was, however, omitted when the bill went to the House, Stewart said, but it was a provision about rural VA providers and unrelated to Republicans’ mandatory spending concerns.
“There was not one word added to the copy of the bill that this Senate passed 84–14. So that’s not a matter of opinion. That’s not a matter of me saying so. It’s a matter of record,” Stewart said. “The delay has been long enough. It’s been 15 years. We’ve lost friends along the way and we refuse to lose any more.”
Stewart said he is confident the bill will eventually get passed despite GOP opposition.
Ranking member Pat Toomey, R-Penn., questions nominee to be the Comptroller of the Currency Saule Omarova as she testifies before the Senate Banking,.
(JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
“We’ll go wherever we have to go,” he said. “The one thing that I will say about these men and women is they’ve still got the heart of a warrior. They may be suffering from the diseases that are wracking their body from the burn pits, but they are relentless and they have drive. And we not we won’t let it go.”
Marine Corps veteran Mindy Beyer joined Stewart in the interview, where she discussed her friend and fellow corpsman Kate Thomas who died earlier in 2022 of an aggressive cancer that has been linked to burn pits.
Beyer emphasized the urgency surrounding the passage of the bill, telling Fox News that veterans have succumbed to suicide after the cloture vote was blocked in the Senate.
U.S. Army soldiers watch garbage burn in a burn-pit at Forward Operating Base Azzizulah in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Burton
“Time is of the essence right now,” Beyer said. “I know that we are all sharing in the victory over terrorism and Al Qaida, but my heart right now is with the veterans who made that possible, who are lying in their beds at home, suffering because we haven’t given them the care that they need. They will continue to suffer until we can pass this act right now, but as soon as possible, we can not wait another six weeks.”
Throughout her cancer battle, Beyer said Thomas would often tell her family, “‘I am totally willing to die for my country, I just didn’t think it would be like this.'”
“When you die on the battlefield, you’re sacrificing yourself,” Beyer said. “When you come home with wounds and you die of a prolonged illness at home, you are depleting your family’s resources financial, social, emotional, their health. And then you have to worry about their survival after you leave, passed away. No veteran wants to sacrifice their family. They’re willing to sacrifice themselves,” she said. “They’re not willing to sacrifice their family.
“This has taken long enough,” she added. “It’s time to help all of these veterans.”
Yael Halon is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to email@example.com.