iowacapitaldispatch.com – By: Jennifer Shutt – WASHINGTON — Veterans and their advocates gathered outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday for what was supposed to be a celebration, one day after a crucial Senate vote on bipartisan legislation that would expand health care and benefits to 3.5 million veterans exposed to burn pits during their deployments.
The gathering instead became a forum for those who have been working on the bill for years to vent their frustrations with Republicans for blocking it Wednesday afternoon over objections raised by retiring Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
“The Senate is where accountability goes to die,” said Jon Stewart, celebrity comedian and longtime advocate for veterans. “These people don’t care.”
Stewart said he was used to the lies, hypocrisy and the cowardice from members of Congress, but that he wasn’t used to the cruelty, calling Toomey “a f****** coward.”
Stewart urged members of Congress to stay in Washington, D.C., until the bill is on its way to President Joe Biden, criticizing lawmakers for still planning to leave town in the days ahead for the August recess.
“Obviously, I’m not a military expert, I didn’t serve in the military, but from what I understand you’re not allowed to just leave your post when the mission isn’t completed. Apparently, you take an oath,” Stewart said. “But these folks can leave, because they’re on Senate time.”
New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said after the press conference that she plans to ask unanimous consent on the floor to send the measure to Biden for his signature.