(The Hill) — Repubican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on Sunday defended his “no” vote on a bill to aid military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits against what he called “false accusations” from comedian Jon Stewart.
Toomey, during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper, called the former “Daily Show” host a “pseudo-celebrity” and accused the bill’s Democratic backers of “the oldest trick in Washington.”
“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,” Toomey said.
The legislation’s supporters, Toomey said, will then “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 insisted that he and his fellow Republicans don’t oppose the bill itself, but are worried instead about Democrats using it to acquire funds for unrelated matters and switch discretionary funding to mandatory.
Stewart has knocked the GOP for holding up the bill’s progress and for misinterpreting the proposal.
“Their constituents are dying,” Stewart said last week in Washington.
On Sunday, Stewart blasted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for voting “no” and called claims about the spending language in the bill and the potential to misuse included funds “factually incorrect.”
All Democrats and eight Republicans voted for the bill when it was first introduced last week, but the tally fell five votes short of the amount needed to bypass the filibuster.
Toomey on Sunday emphasized the Republican push for an amendment vote on the bill.
“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 … We are spending way too much money to use — to hide behind a veterans bill the opportunity to go on an unrelated $400 billion spending spree is wrong. And we shouldn’t allow it,” the Pennsylvania senator said.