Jon Stewart has been blasting Republicans for blocking a bill that would aid veterans exposed to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The former Daily Show host has appeared on Fox News and Newsmax to speak to right-wing audiences to slam GOP senators for what he says is “a disgrace”.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz accused Mr Stewart of misrepresenting the bill, saying that Democrats were attempting a “budgetary trick” in the PACT Act. Mr Cruz voted against the bill despite having said he support its and having said he supports veterans.
“What Ted Cruz is describing is inaccurate, not true, bulls***t”, Mr Stewart said in a video posted on Twitter, mocking Mr Cruz for saying that the Democrats put “discretionary” funds in the legislation that they made “mandatory”.
Mr Cruz was speaking about a budget disagreement initially objected to by retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. The Pennsylvanian claimed that the legislation would mean that $400bn in already decided spending on veterans wouldn’t be controlled by annual congressional appropriations.
Mr Cruz was spotted fist-bumping Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines on the senate floor after the bill went down, enraging Democrats and veterans organisations.
Democrats and Mr Stewart have rejected the claims made by Republicans about the bill. The comedian asked Mr Cruz to specify the $400bn “blank check or unrelated spending that was added/snuck in”.
“Now, I’m not a big-city, Harvard-educated lawyer, but I can read”, he said in a mocking Southern accent. “It’s always been mandatory spending, so the government can’t just cut off their funding at any point. No trick, no gimmick, been there the whole … time.”
“Jon, you’re a funny guy, and I appreciate your engaging on issues of public policy. That’s a good thing”, Mr Cruz said in a video tweeted on Friday, still claiming that he strongly supports the bill and veterans across the country.
“But if you’re going to do so, the facts matter”, he said.
The bill passed the senate 84-14 on 16 June but was voted down after some changes were made to the legislation in the house, prompting 25 GOP Senators to vote against the bill when it came back to their chamber.
“The most despicable part of this whole thing is watching on the Senate floor Ted Cruz fist-bumping and then patting each other on the back when they blocked this bill”, Mr Stewart told MSNBC on Friday.
He said the Republicans who voted against the bill were “celebrating their victory over veterans with cancer”.
“He’s talking about the PACT Act, which is a bill I support. It’s a bill most senators support”, Mr Cruz told TMZ about Mr Stewart’s comments. He claimed the bill was “part of the out-of-control spending from the left”.
“There’s nothing in the bill that is not related to veterans’ spending. … This is for veterans who suffered health effects from burn pits and other toxins. That is it!” Mr Stewart said in his video on Twitter.
“You’re wrong here. The bill gives a $400B blank check—separate from vets care—for unrelated pork that will supercharge inflation. I support the PACT Act & the $679.4B it would dedicate to vets. It’s ppl trying to use PACT to shovel more pork who are exploiting vets”, Mr Cruz tweeted.
“I’m not going to blame Jon for not knowing all the facts,” Fox News host Jesse Watters said on his programme on Friday. “Going forward, let’s do this – I’ll do the research and Jon Stewart can handle the farming. It’s better for everybody that way.”
“Ah dearest Theodore. I do appreciate you and @JesseBWatters trying to rally the forces of misinformation to try and kill more vets…but not tonite sweetie. I’ll go slow cuz I know you only went to Princeton and Harvard…”, Mr Stewart responded.
“This isn’t a game. Real people’s lives hang in the balance…people that fought for your life. The PACT act you voted for, then inexplicably shot down is the same one Senators Tester and Moran posted online in MAY. Which you read cuz yer shmart”, he added.