TV personality Jon Stewart pushed back against Republicans claiming they voted to block the PACT Act because Democrats changed spending line requirements to allow $400 billion to be spent on nonveterans programs.
"I keep trying to tell you this, and this is not an opinion, this is a fact: Go on Congress.gov; the bill that they voted for 84-14 [before] had the exact same provisions that they are complaining about in it," former "Daily Show" host told Newsmax's "National Report."
The bill funds healthcare for veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits and Stewart called Republicans' reasoning for voting against it now a lie.
Stewart, who has been a vocal proponent for the funding, was responding to a Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, statement to Newsmax. Cruz said the PACT Act "contains an irresponsible Democratic provision allowing Congress to record recklessly spend an additional $400 billion on programs totally unrelated to our veterans."
Cruz also called on Democrats to work with Republicans to "fix this issue to prevent inflationary spending that will hurt all Americans. Once that happens, the PACT Act will quickly become law."
Republicans who voted against the bill, led by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., say they were voting against a new version of the measure that reclassified the $400 billion in Veterans Administration funding from discretionary spending to mandatory spending, which would allow Democrats to spend that money without congressional oversight.
"I'm glad [Cruz] wrote it down, because sometimes when people just lie orally, it's very hard to pin them down," Stewart said. "I would ask you to ask Sen. Cruz to point to the change.
"You can look at the bill side-by-side, the bill that they passed on June 16 by 84-14, did not have one word added to it in the bill that they shot down in July. There was no gimmick inserted. There was no change from mandatory to discretionary. It is utter nonsense."
He accused the Republicans of "fearmongering," but said that effort is "factually incorrect."
"One of the biggest problems we are having with this bill is the misinformation that comes out of supposedly credible sources like Sen. Ted Cruz," Stewart said, adding, "this is not a Democrat ploy. This is the way the bill came out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee."
That bill, he added, gained 90 GOP votes when it landed in the House.
Meanwhile, the veterans protesting outside the Capitol have remained, even through a large thunderstorm Monday night, and are "showing the kind of tenacity and fortitude that serves our fighting forces," Stewart said.
Toomey, meanwhile, is seeking an amendment to the act that would put a cap on what the VA can spend on care for veterans who suffer from exposure to the burn pits, and to retire the fund after 10 years, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough told CNN on Sunday.
Stewart blamed Toomey for holding up the bill because he wants to get his way on the amendment, but "that's not really how the country works."
"What about their [the veterans'] way?" Stewart said, noting the VFW, American Legion, Wounded Warriors Project, and more are calling for the PACT Act to become law. "What about their voice?"
Further, the things Toomey wants can still be done and there can be oversight, Stewart concluded.
"The bill specifies what it can be used for," he said. "There's absolutely no reason for this man to hold up this bill on petty parliamentary nonsense."
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