Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday he intends to put a health care bill for military veterans exposed to deadly toxins up for a vote again this week after 41 Republicans senators blocked it, accusing Democrats of using a “budget gimmick” to hide million of dollars in spending.
“I will hold a new vote this week, and I am urging everyone to vote ‘yes.’ This is not a Washington issue. This is a local issue. We just need Washington to help solve it,” the New York Democrat told reporters at a news conference.
He said “the sicknesses that have reared from burn pits and their miasma of toxins should be added to conditions that the VA covers — this is the right thing, the moral thing and the honorable thing to do.”
Forty-one GOP senators voted against cloture on the Honoring Our PACT Act last Wednesday, claiming that Democrats had added $400 billion in spending not related to veterans health care in the measure.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who was slammed by former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart for voting against the bill, on Sunday defended his choice and accused Democrats of using 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 on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He then claimed that Democrats “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.”
Sen. Pat Toomey called out the bill, saying Democrats were trying to pass it to also put in unrelated spending, too.Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP, File
Toomey said he and his Republican colleagues are not opposed to the “substance” of the PACT Act.
“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 said.
Stewart, who lambasted the Republicans last Thursday for voting against a bill that passed the Senate 84-14 in June, rejected the notion that Democrats inserted money into the bill ”in the middle of the night,” calling it “bulls–t.”
Stewart on Sunday admitted that there was a “technical issue” that had to be resolved in the House.
”One sentence. So nothing was added. No gimmick was put in. Nothing was changed. When it came back to the Senate to, what we thought was just a procedural vote, then they shot it down. But nothing had changed in the bill from the one that they had passed 84 to 14 in June,” he said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
He specifically singled out Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for saying the Republicans voted against the PACT Act because the “Democrats played a budgetary trick” with the $400 billion in spending.
”Anybody can say anything. You know, we could say Elvis Presley is still alive. But at some point, we all have to live in reality,” Stewart told host Chuck Todd.
“And what he is saying is just factually incorrect. 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,” he added.