At 6:03 p.m. Wednesday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) got on Twitter to make sure people would know he supports U.S. military service members.
“I was honored to join [the United Service Organizations] today and make care packages for our brave military members in gratitude of their sacrifice and service to our nation,” Scott wrote, alongside photos of him at an event hosted by the nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that day.
Minutes later, Scott joined other Senate Republicans in voting to block advancement of the PACT Act, a bipartisan bill that would expand health care and disability benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals and burn pits during their military service.
Scott wasn’t the only Republican who hailed veterans just before standing in the way of legislation that would improve their lives.
GOP Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) also posted photos of themselves at the USO event. “Members of our military are among the nation’s best and brightest,” Romney wrote.
“Every little bit helps, and I’m happy I got to play a small part in supporting our troops,” Hyde-Smith said in her post.
About an hour before casting his “no” vote, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) tweeted about meeting with the Montana Independent Living Project that day to hear about “the important work they’re doing to support disabled Montanans, veterans and seniors.”
In total, more than 40 Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), voted against sending the bill to a final vote.
At a news conference with veterans Thursday morning on Capitol Hill, a visibly incensed Jon Stewart — the comedian who has become a vocal advocate for vets — skewered Scott for his tweet about putting together care packages.
“It’s beautiful,” Stewart sarcastically said of Scott’s post. “Did you get the package? I think it has M&M’s in it, and some cookies and some moist towelettes. Honestly, I don’t even know what to say. I’ve been coming down here 10, 15 years ― I’m used to the hypocrisy.”
“None of them care — except to tweet,” Stewart added. “Boy, they’ll tweet it. Can’t wait to see what they come up with on Veterans Day, on Memorial Day. Well, this is the reality of it.”
In a statement following Wednesday’s vote, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said Republicans had chosen to “rob generations of toxic-exposed veterans across this country of the health care and benefits they so desperately need ― and make no mistake, more veterans will suffer and die as a result.”
“This eleventh-hour act of cowardice will actively harm this country’s veterans and their families,” he said.