Speaking from an event in Washington, D.C., TV host Jon Stewart called on senators to “do the right thing,” saying that if they can send billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, they can vote on a bill to help sick U.S. veterans.
“Any senator that voted to send $40 billion to Ukraine can stand up and do the right thing by the veterans of this country,” Stewart said as he called on the Senate to vote to approve the Honoring Our PACT Act, a package to give veterans sick from toxic exposure to burn pits access to the healthcare and disability benefits that they need.
Stewart, who has long been an advocate for veterans, was speaking during the Rolling to Remember event in Washington, D.C. over Memorial Day weekend.
According to reporting from The Wrap, Stewart was angered that the only people present at the rally were those who had a personal connection to veterans’ rights.
“It’s hard not to be here today and not get frustrated again because as I look out in the crowd, I see the same thing I always see: veterans and their families and caregivers. But where are the American people?” he asked angrily.
During U.S. military actions following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, members of the U.S. military deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan were forced to eat, sleep, and work in areas near massive open-air pits which constantly burned large amounts of trash — including food packaging, human waste, and military equipment, according to reporting from The Independent.
While thousands of these soldiers returned home suffering from serious conditions due to the toxic exposure, they found themselves without access to VA healthcare or benefits because the burden of proof fell on them to show a direct link between their illnesses and the burn pits.
According to reporting from Newsmax, “The Honoring our PACT Act — which would presumptively link 23 cancers, respiratory illnesses, and other conditions to a veterans’ exposure to burn pits — is the closest it has ever come to being signed into law, having passed the House in April and heading to the Senate for a vote soon.”
Despite this, the bill still has the potential to fail in the Senate due to some pushback from Republicans over the massive $1 billion price tag.
Stewart is optimistic, however, stating that “right now it’s bipartisan and we’re going to trust that, when it all comes down, that they’re going to do the right thing as Americans.”
The Senate is expected to hold a vote on the legislation in the first week of June.
If the bill passes, it will likely be signed into law as early as July.