Former ‘Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart added a little star power to an effort on Capitol Hill to help veterans who were exposed to burn pits get government benefits more easily.
On Tuesday, Stewart gathered alongside lawmakers and activists to push for the passage of legislation that eases the burden on veterans to provide proof that there’s a direct connection between their time in service and a disease they’ve suffered from since.
‘But damn, for those that have fought and defended and served this country. For them to come home and have to fight against the very government that they volunteered to defend is immoral, it’s unconscionable and it’s easily remedied,’ Stewart said.
Former ‘Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart returned to Capitol Hill Tuesday and urged lawmakers to pass a bill that would make it easier for veterans exposed to burn pits to get benefits
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is a sponsor of the legislation, which has bicameral and bipartisan support
The U.S. military used open air burn pits to dispose of waste in Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘They don’t need another study to determine whether or not it might not be that healthy to burn everything in sight, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, next to where you’re sleeping,’ the comedia continued. ‘We know it because you’re not allowed to do it in the United States of America.’
The bill has bipartisan and bicameral support.
In the Senate it’s being championed by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. In the House the chief sponsors are Reps. Raul Ruiz, a California Republican and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican.
Gillibrand and Rubio rolled out the Senate bill in late March, though the White House has yet to say if President Joe Biden supports it.
‘I haven’t looked more deeply into the specifics of the bill,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing when asked about the Senate legislation.
She noted, as the reporter had pointed out, that Biden had spoken about the issue in the past.
Biden actually tied his son Beau Biden’s 2015 cancer death to chemical exposure while serving in Iraq.
In a 2019 speech Biden said with Beau’s ‘exposure to burn pits, in my view, I can’t prove it yet, he came back with stage 4 glioblastoma.’
Under current law a veteran who suffers from an illness or disability must document a direct connection between his or her service and the illness in order to be eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits.
‘For veterans exposed to burn pits, this means they would need to provide medical evidence of a current disease or disability, provide personal or other evidence of in-service physical presence near a specific burn pit or exposure to specific toxins or substance and provide evidence of a link between the disability or illness and exposure,’ according to a release about the legislation from Gillibrand’s office.
Stewart has been involved in similar legislative battles – and won.
Stewart was active in getting Congress and former President Donald Trump to reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund in 2019.
Droves of 9/11 first responders and New York residents were sickened by toxins related to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and got cancer. The funds ensured their families were taken care of.
Stewart famously cussed out Congress during a June 2019 hearing when only five subcommittee members showed up to hear testimony from Luis Alvarez, a former New York City detective who was so sick from 9/11-related cancer he died weeks later.
‘As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,’ Stewart said. ‘Behind me a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me a nearly empty Congress.’
‘Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one,’ he continued. ‘Shameful.’
‘It’s an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution and you should be ashamed of yourselves, for those who aren’t here, but you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber,’ Stewart said.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk