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Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., tore into Democrats on Sunday for exposing a “pseudo-celebrity” like comedian Jon Stewart for “making up false accusations” about a veterans benefits bill that was blocked by Republicans last week.
During an appearance on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’, Toomey said he had blocked the PACT Act, which would provide millions of veterans with treatment for illnesses associated with their exposure to outbreaks. combustion, as he wanted an amendment added to avoid overspending in unrelated categories. to veterans.
Toomey ripped Democrats for trying to paint him as an anti-veteran for blocking the bill and Stewart, who has been at the forefront of the issue.
“First of all, it’s the oldest thing in Washington,” Toomey said. “People take a sympathetic group of Americans, and it could be sick children, it could be victims of crime, it could be veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals, craft a bill to solve their problems and then sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never convey on its own and dare the Republicans to do anything about it because they know they will let their allies down in the media and maybe some pseudo-celebrity to make up false accusations to try and get us to just swallow what shouldn’t be there.”
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“Let me be very clear,” he said. “Republicans are not opposed to any substance of the PACT Act. My honest fellow Democrats will fully agree that my objection, and if I get my change, it won’t change the spending on a veterans program one penny. What I’m trying to do is change a government accounting methodology designed to allow our fellow Democrats to embark on a $400 billion spending spree that has nothing to do with veterans. and who won’t be in the veterans’ space.
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“They could have agreed to this a month ago and this bill would pass at any time,” he added. “When we remove this totally independent provision worth $400 billion, I will vote for the bill.”
The Senate voted 84-14 last month in favor of the PACT Act, with majority votes in the House and Senate. It represents the most comprehensive veterans’ health care reform to date, establishing a suspected service connection for veterans seriously ill after inhaling toxic fumes that hung over their overseas bases, including in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
The bill returned to the House, which recently passed a revised version, but further passage was delayed by Toomey, who argued that there was already $400 billion allocated in the discretionary spending budget, and that moving it to the mandatory spending budget would be nothing more than a “trick” to avoid spending caps.
Officials in Sen. Toomey’s office also cited a provision they say was added to the PACT Act just before the bill was debated in the Senate, which stated that any discretionary budget funds related to fireplaces could be classified as compulsory expenditure. They told Fox News that his amendment was only intended to prevent current discretionary spending — regardless of the PACT Act — from being shifted to the mandatory spending budget. Any new discretionary funding related to exposure to toxic combustion fireplaces could still be transferred to the mandatory budget.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, who appeared after Toomey in “State of the Union,” said the senator’s amendment would lead to rationing of health care for veterans.
“The fund ($400 billion) is in the bill so we can make sure … that all of this spending for this program is for veterans exposed to these toxins,” McDonough said. “And so he’s saying it won’t impact our programming – in good conscience, I don’t think it will. In fact, he puts a year-to-year cap on what we spend , then at the end of 10 years the fund disappears under his amendment so the impact of that would be, if his estimates are wrong on what will be spent in a given year, that means we will have to maybe ration care for veterans. And by the way, that’s not something I would subscribe to.”
Toomey blasted McDonough’s comments on Twitter.
During an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Stewart said Toomey’s delay on the bill was “bananas.”
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“The Toomey amendment is really about capping the fund,” Stewart explained. “It’s about putting caps on it and giving it a sunset clause for 10 years. We’ve been through that, and what Toomey’s amendment wants to do is make sure our sick veterans and dying people have the pleasure that our 9/11 first responders at Ground Zero had to return to Washington, hat in hand, riddled with cancer and parade through the halls of the Hill begging for money.”
“I mean, it’s all been, it’s so bananas,” he added. “Nothing has changed, so I don’t understand any of this.”
Fox News’ Perry Chiaramonte contributed to this report.
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