Senators must "do the right thing" by veterans at a time when Congress is sending billions of dollars to help the Ukrainian military, TV host Jon Stewart told The Independent.
"Any senator that voted to send $40 billion to Ukraine can stand up and do the right thing by the veterans of this country" by voting to approve a package to give U.S. veterans, who are sick from toxic exposure to burn pits, access to the healthcare and disability benefits that they need, said Stewart, who is an advocate for veterans.
Stewart was speaking from the Rolling to Remember event in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day weekend to press Congress to pass the Honoring our PACT Act.
During his speech at the event, The Wrap reported, Stewart bemoaned that those present at the rally included only those with a personal connection to veterans' rights, angrily saying, "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?"
During U.S. military actions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan had to eat, sleep, and work next to huge open-air pits which continuously burned large amounts of trash — including food packaging, human waste, and military equipment, according to The Independent.
Thousands returned home in serious condition from the toxic exposure, but found themselves without access to VA healthcare and benefits because the burden of proof was on them to show a direct link.
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.
However the bill still faces some pushback from Republican senators due to its estimated $1 billion price tag.
Stewart said, however, 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 vote on the bill in the first week of June after the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee announced a bipartisan deal had been reached.
If it passes the Senate vote, it is likely to be signed into law as soon as July.
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