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GOP Sen. Toomey Rips ‘Pseudo Celebrity’ Jon Stewart Following Criticism Over Veteran Burn Pits Bill

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Sen. Pat Toomey appeared to take a verbal swipe at former Comedy Central ‘Daily Show’ star Jon Stewart following the latter’s criticism of him over delaying legislation aimed at providing more health care assistance to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Toomey, a retiring GOP senator from Pennsylvania, and other GOP colleagues have come under criticism this past week after blocking the PACT Act, a bill aimed at providing benefits to veterans and 9/11 first responders who’ve been exposed to burning toxic chemicals.

Stewart has taken the lead both in trying to get the measure passed and in criticizing Republicans who have blocked it.

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But on Sunday, Toomey explained in detail his opposition after he was asked about it by CNN’s Jake Tapper, according to an interview clip posted by Mediaite.

He started by calling out Democrats for using an old “trick” — taking a sympathetic group of Americans (like children or veterans) and making them the face of legislation, only to jam the bill with a massive amount of unrelated spending for other priorities.

Making a reference to Stewart, Toomey then said that Democratic proponents of the bill are attempting to “sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never pass on its own and dare Republicans to do anything about it because they know they’ll unleash their allies in the media, and maybe a pseudo-celebrity to make up false accusations to try to get us to just swallow what shouldn’t be there.”

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He also said he was denied a chance to make amendments to the bill, and that “Republicans are not opposed to any of the substance of the PACT Act.” He further accused Democrats of attempting to launch an “unrelated $400 billion spending spree that has nothing to do with veterans and won’t be in the veterans space.”

He added:

This is why they do this sort of thing, Jake, because it gets very deep in the weeds and very confusing for people very quickly. It’s not really about veterans spending. It’s about what category of government bookkeeping they put the veteran spending in. My change, honest people acknowledge, will have no affect on the amount of money or the circumstances under which the money for veterans is being spent.

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But what I want to do is treat it for government accounting purposes the way we’ve always treated it for government accounting purposes because if we change it to the way that the Democrats want, it creates room — in future budgets — for $400 billion of totally unrelated extraneous spending on other matters. That’s what I want to prevent.

Earlier, on his Senate website, Toomey further explained: “The PACT Act as written includes a budget gimmick that would allow $400 billion of current law spending to be moved from the discretionary to the mandatory spending category. This provision is completely unnecessary to achieve the PACT Act’s stated goal of expanding health care and other benefits for veterans.

“However, it would enable an additional $400 billion in future discretionary spending completely unrelated to veterans. By failing to remove this gimmick, Congress would effectively be using an important veterans care bill to hide a massive, unrelated spending binge,” he noted.

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The additional $400 billion in spending, as Toomey claimed, would come as the Senate is working on passing the “Inflation Reduction Act” which contains a provision that earmarks only about $300 billion in reducing the country’s $30 trillion national debt, or about a day’s worth of interest.

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To Toomey’s broader point about increased spending, several economists have said massive congressional spending measures over the past couple of years amid a supply chain crisis have led to the country’s current near-historic rates of inflation, which clocked in at 9.1 percent in June. The Democrat-led Congress has continued to spend heavily as well during the era of President Joe Biden.

And whether they are to blame or not, a growing number of Americans are holding Democrats accountable nonetheless, especially Biden — including voters in his own party.

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll on Friday showed that a whopping half of Democrat voters do not want him to campaign again for the presidency in 2024.

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