Jon Stewart on Tuesday celebrated a bipartisan Senate vote for legislation providing health care benefits to millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service.
Stewart, who fiercely championed the legislation and denounced Republican senators who blocked it last week, appeared outside the Capitol with military veterans who stand to benefit, as shown on CNN video.
“I wanna apologize for cursing last week, I don’t know what happened,” said Stewart. “Normally I’m very demure.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) called Stewart a “pseudo-celebrity” last week after he and fellow Republicans blocked the bill in what seemed to be a way of getting revenge on Democrats after they brokered a climate deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that caught Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by surprise.
Some of those Republicans relented in Tuesday’s 86-11 vote passing the measure, which aims to help military personnel exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam.
“I will say this,” said Stewart. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a situation where people who have already given so much had to fight so hard to get so little. And I hope we learned a lesson.”
Stewart, who hosted “The Daily Show” until 2015, has been an outspoken advocate for first responders and military veterans afflicted by toxic exposure.
At the Capitol, Stewart hugged Rosie Torres, who founded an advocacy group called Burn Pits 360 after her husband Le Roy was exposed to toxic fumes in Iraq in 2007 and lost his job as a Texas state trooper because of his health.
“Le Roy, my brother,” Stewart said, singling out Torres. “I talked to Le Roy four years ago in my office and I made a promise to him. I said, ‘I’m not gonna let you go, my brother’ and ‘we’re gonna get this done.’ And guess what? We got it done. Love you Le Roy.”