Jon Stewart chastised Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for voting against a bill that would aid military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, calling the reasoning offered by the Republican, who has made headlines responding to the comedian’s criticisms, “scattershot” and “all over the place.”
The former Daily Show host appeared on Capitol Hill this week and amplified broadsides by Senate Democrats who say Republicans shifted their support for the legislation, named the Honoring our PACT Act, after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reached an agreement with party colleagues on a separate spending bill that would not need GOP support to pass.
“The bill that Ted Cruz voted ‘Yes’ on had the exact same funding provisions as the bill he voted ‘No’ on. It’s the exact same bill. None of this makes any sense,” Stewart told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press.
“I’m watching it from the outside, so I don’t know why they did it. But I do know this: The explanations that they’ve given thus far are scattershot, they’re all over the place, and none of them make any sense,” Stewart added on Sunday.
Cruz has stood out among his peers as a foil to Stewart, as the senator from Texas sought to refute the comedian’s criticisms of Republicans. The senator stressed he does support the PACT Act, but he opposes a Democratic provision that he says would move appropriated funds from discretionary to mandatory spending. Indeed, Republicans argue the current version of the PACT Act converts $400 billion in authorizations from discretionary spending, which is subject to yearly congressional appropriations, to mandatory spending, which does not fall under annual appropriations.
“The issue here is the Democrats included in this bill an accounting gift where they took 400 billion dollars of spending, discretionary spending, they shifted into mandatory spending, didn’t change the amount at all,” Cruz said in a video message Friday. “Their objective, they want to cram $400 billion in unrelated spending onto this bill that has nothing to do with veterans. Now, given inflation that is skyrocketing in this country, I think another 400 billion in spending is irresponsible.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said Sunday that he would vote for the legislation if his proposed amendment is allowed.
“What I want to do is treat it for government accounting purposes the way we have 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,” Toomey told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union.
Without his provision, the $400 billion could go toward completely unrelated spending, he argued.
A procedural motion last Wednesday to end debate on the measure failed in a 55-42 vote, falling short of the 60 votes required to end debate and avert a filibuster.
The Senate approved a similar version of the bill in an 84-14 vote in mid-June, but minor changes made by the House required the Senate to vote on it again before the bill can be sent to the president. Schumer indicated that the Senate will likely vote again on the PACT Act on Monday, allowing Toomey’s amendment to go to a vote.