Jon Stewart slams Senate Republicans for not passing bill aimed at helping veterans
WASHINGTON - Comedian and veterans' advocate Jon Stewart is furious after Republican senators stopped the passage of a widely-supported bipartisan bill that would have expanded medical coverage for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their service.
"This is an embarrassment to the Senate to the country to the founders and all they profess to hold dear," Stewart said during an angry press conference on Thursday. "I'm used to all of it but I am not used to the cruelty."
The PACT Act would provide new or increased disability benefits to thousands of veterans who have become ill with Cancer or respiratory conditions due to their exposure to toxic burn pits.
"Every one of these individuals that has been fighting for years standing on the shoulders of Vietnam veterans who have been fighting for years. Standing on the shoulders of Persian Gulf War veterans fighting for years. Desert storm veterans to just get the health care benefits that they earned from their service," Stewart said.
RELATED: WWII vet honored with Purple Heart 77 years after service
One of those veterans is Captain Rafael Barbosa. He served for 23 years in the U.S. Army. He recently told FOX News he now has stage four cancer.
"We definitely burned our waste pretty much every day," Captain Barbosa said.
The PACT Act passed with bipartisan support in June but was just blocked by Senate Republicans who want to make changes to the legislation. They say as it is now the bill would grant benefits to veterans whose conditions may not have anything to do with their military service. Republicans also accuse Democrats of attaching extra unrelated spending to the bill.
"A bill this important and this bipartisan deserves for us to fix the accounting gimmick and then it deserves to become law," Senator Mitch McConnell said.
Veterans' families are not done fighting to get the PACT Act passed. They are demonstrating outside the U.S. Capitol.
Rosie Torres's founded the group Burnpits360.org after her husband got sick.
"We're here to just call out and stand in solidarity with the fallen and those that are sick, asking those 25 senators to honor their oath the way our veterans honor those," Torres said.