Comedian and vocal veteran supporter Jon Stewart visited Washington, D.C. to demand action for service members exposed to toxic smoke and suggested to “dig a giant f*cking pit” outside the Capitol, “burn everything” and see how Congress feels then.
Stewart, 59, has remained stalwart on the issue of burn pits and burn-pit-related illnesses for years and even dedicated the first episode of his Apple TV show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” to the topic in October 2021. The burden of proof in associating those illnesses with exposure has rested with veterans and the latest comments preceded a hearing on Capitol Hill regarding legislation to resolve these issues.
“This delay is unconscionable,” he said, surrounded by veteran advocates and flanked by New York Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, “and you’re gonna have a hearing today and you’re gonna hear a lot of nonsense.”
Warning: Adult Language
In a fiery speech, Jon Stewart joins Dem senators to advocate for legislation that would support veterans exposed to toxic substances:
"Let's dig a giant fucking pit, 10 acres long, and burn everything in Washington with jet fuel and then let me know how long they want to wait!" pic.twitter.com/RADxHQv1Aj
— The Recount (@therecount) March 29, 2022
“They’re all gonna say the same thing,” Stewart continued, suggesting the legislators would all point fingers at their partisan opponents. “We wanna support the veterans. But we wanna do it the right way. We wanna be responsible.”
“You know what would have been nice?” he asked rhetorically. “If they had been responsible 20 years ago and hadn’t spent trillions of dollars on overseas adventures. If they had been responsible and hadn’t spent billions of dollars for defense contractors to poison our own troops.”
Stewart continued arguing the merits of The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT Act) and addressed a 2008 Pentagon memo that raised concerns about impending health consequences for the military because of these burn pits. He added that these pits were already burned domestically in the 1070s before offering a suggestion on how to motivate lawmakers.
“You want to do it here? Let’s dig a giant f*cking pit 10 acres long and burn everything in Washington with jet fuel. And then let me know how long they want to wait before they think it’s gonna cause some health problems,” he expressed.
“Here’s the bottom line,” Stewart added with a partisan dig, “you cannot be America First when you put veterans last. And it stops. And these guys are gonna get it done.”
Our vets who have illnesses from exposure to burn pits shouldn’t have to fight for health care
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 29, 2022
Veterans and service members exposed to toxic burn pits shouldn't have to fight to get the care they need and have earned. Thank you to @SenSchumer, @RepRaulRuizMD, @jonstewart, @johnfeal2, and the families and veterans organizations who stood in support of the #PACTAct today. pic.twitter.com/QF3ejkO3Ua
— Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (@gillibrandny) March 29, 2022
Schumer and Gillibrand took time to score political points at the speech and assured the public that a vote would be held on the PACT Act during this session of Congress. However, the reality is the initial piece of legislation passed out of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee in June 2021 only to not see a vote in the House until early March.
That is a far cry from demonstrating an expedited concern for the health and well-being of veterans when Democrats controlled the House of Representatives, Senate, and White House. In fact, it appears to be a deliberate delay to sway voters as a midterm election approaches. Especially when one considers that burn pits were highlighted in President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
As for keeping America First, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs established the Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence during President Donald Trump’s administration in 2019. Congress, under the direction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), failed to fund it.
“The bottom line is this,” Stewart stated in a January interview, “Our country exposed our veterans to poison for years, and we knew about it, and we didn’t act with urgency and appropriateness.”
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