Sen. Pat Toomey (D-Pa.) on Sunday defended his party for blocking a bill aimed at supporting military veterans exposed to toxic combustion pits, lashing out at Democrats for rallying behind a “pseudocelebrity,” a apparent reference to comedian Jon. stuart.
Stewart, the former “Daily Show” host who has for years advocated for veterans and first responders suffering from toxic exposures, has criticized the Republican Party for Thursday’s vote. The bill garnered the support of just eight Republicans, short of the 10 GOP votes needed, and appeared to be a way of getting back at Democrats after they negotiated a climate deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) that caught Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by surprise..
“This is the oldest trick in Washington,” Toomey told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “People take a sympathetic group of Americans — and they could be kids with a disease, they could be crime victims, they could be veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals — they write a bill to address their problems, and then they infiltrate something completely unrelated that they know could never happen on its own and they challenge the Republicans to do something about it, because they know they will unleash their allies in the media and maybe a pseudo-celebrity to concoct false accusations to try to get them to just swallow it that shouldn’t be there.”
Toomey urged his fellow Republicans to oppose the legislation, saying it contained a “budget trick” to provide $400 billion in additional spending. The GOP is “not opposed to anything substantive” in the veterans bill, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Toomey said he wants the Senate to vote on an amendment he introduced Tuesday to keep the $400 billion “in the category where it’s always been, the discretionary spending category.”
Stewart told ABC’s “This Week” that she would support senators in giving them a chance to vote on the amendment. Toomey’s proposal, he said, would not make spending discretionary.
“The Toomey Amendment is really about limiting the fund. It’s about setting limits and giving it a sunset clause for 10 years,” Stewart said.
He continued: “What the Toomey amendment wants to do is make sure that our sick and dying veterans have the pleasure that our 9/11 first responders at Ground Zero had in having to return to Washington, hat in hand, riddled with cancer, and they march through the corridors of Cerro asking for money every year.”
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) also came under fire after being captured. bumping fists on the Senate floor after the bill failed to pass.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.