Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) responded to attacks from comedian Jon Stewart on Sunday, setting the record straight over Republican opposition to a veteran's health care bill.
What is the background?
Stewart lashed out at Republican lawmakers last week for initially blocking the PACT Act, legislation that would expand health care services for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.
"I'm used to the lies...I'm used to the hypocrisy…I'm used to the lies...I'm used to the cowardice...I'm used to all of it, but I am not used to the cruelty," Stewart said in a viral speech last week.
Stewart has continued his campaign against Republicans in the days since his speech, specifically targeting Toomey and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) despite each lawmaker explaining they support the substance of the PACT Act, but oppose handing the government another blank check.
What did Toomey say?
Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Toomey explained that Democrats are trying to pull the wool over Americans' eyes — and they're using Stewart to force Republican lawmakers to accept it.
"This is the oldest trick in Washington," Toomey began
"People take a sympathetic group of Americans — and it could be children with an illness, it could be victims of crime, it could be veterans who've been exposed to toxic chemicals — craft a bill to address their problems, and then sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never pass on its own and dare Republicans to do anything about it," he continued, "because they know they will 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."
Toomey explains why he voted against bill to help vets exposed to toxic burn pitswww.youtube.com
When host Jake Tapper raised a common objection to Toomey's point — that Republicans supported the same bill earlier this year — Toomey disclosed that Republicans were promised they would have the opportunity to draw up amendments.
But, according to Toomey, that promise "was reneged on."
"Let me be very clear: Republicans are not opposed to any of the substance of the PACT Act," Toomey explained. "My honest Democratic colleagues will fully acknowledge that my objection — and if I get my way, I get my change — it will not change by one penny any spending on any veterans program.
"What I'm trying to do is change a government accounting methodology that is designed to allow our Democratic colleagues to go on an unrelated $400 billion spending-spree that has nothing to do with veterans and that won't be in the veterans space," he continued.
Later in the interview, Tapper suggested that Republicans pass the bill now, and fix it later. But Toomey quickly pointed out "there's never an opportunity to fix the problems later."
"That's why they're not giving us the opportunity now. They know they can prevent us from fixing it later," Toomey explained.
What was the response?
Speaking after Toomey on CNN, Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said he cannot support what Republicans want, claiming the outcome "will be rationing of care for vets."
McDonough, however, provided zero evidence showing that if the government does not get another massive discretionary spending fund that VA health care — which is notoriously bad already — will be forced to ration services.
Meanwhile, Stewart responded to Toomey's interview by mocking the Republican lawmaker.
"Morning @SenToomey I'd rather be a pseudo celeb than pseudo Senator! Take your amendment vote at the same 60 threshold Veterans had to hit...Good luck capping and rationing care!!!!!" Stewart wrote on Twitter.