tv Jon Stewart Congressional Leaders Hold News Conference on PACT Act CSPAN July 30, 2022 3:50am-5:00am EDT
the folks here representing the people who served, the families of folks that i hear of the people who served. on june 16, we passed the pact act in the united states senate, not by a small margin. we passed it with 84 positive votes. the appropriations committee should be able to address those issues.
he wants to stop that from happening. while we have -- and i'm going to say republicans because they are the ones that flipped -- republicans say i don't have a problem with the cost, but i'm going to vote no because of some of the reason whatsoever -- that is political malpractice and we need to hold people accountable. i'm going to tell you something. i have been in this business 25 years and i have never seen anything that has happened like happened yesterday and what compounds it and makes it that much more difficult is we in essence yesterday took benefits away from people who have been impacted by war that we sent off to war and we turn our backs and say, no, we are going to find an
excuse to vote against our veterans while we wave the flag talking about how great our fighting men and women are. so, what is the path forward? the path forward is we need to hold people accountable. there are promises that were made. we heard them at the last press conference and i heard them from fellow senators, by the way, that said that the people in this group made a lot of phone calls before the june 16 vote. and we are going to back our commitment. yesterday, they forgot with the commitment was. funny what a month and a half will do. we've got to get out and call and have your friends in the military and veterans call. we've got to have your civilian friends call because what happened yesterday is totally unacceptable. unacceptable.
i can guarantee you this. if you want to find a reason to vote against a bill, you can. the truth is that they voted against the men and women who fight for this country who want to return back to civilian life and have a normal life. not only those folks, but their families. we've got some work to do and we got to do it very soon. we've got to be very proactive and we've got to burn some shoe leather, we've got to burn up some phone lines. got to make people uncomfortable and hold them accountable for what they promised to do and what they did on june 16. if we are able to do that, we can write this ship. if we aren't, then once again our veterans will have to go to the v.a. and they will have to beg and argue and fight for benefits they have already earned. took them 25 years, 25 years.
now, look, there are so many -- i said on the floor of the senate yesterday, i said this delay might not sound like a big thing, but number one we don't have the bill passed and there will be veterans who died between now and when this bill passes and this is a piece of legislation that everybody thought on june 16 was a done deal. we've got to work. we've got to double down. you guys have already worked really hard. you should not have to do this again, but it is a necessity and i apologize for the dysfunction, but if we are able to step up, i think we can right the ship, but i think it is not going to be easy. it is not going to be easy. i'm not a partisan person. i'm somebody who believes that both sides have to work together and i want to thank the republicans who stuck with us yesterday and i called many of them and thanked them.
their word is their bond, which is the way i was raised. the rest of them need to be talked to. senator gillibrand? [applause] >> well, i agree with senator tester. this is total bullshit. this is the worst form of over politicization i have ever seen. this is total b.s. we had the votes, we had strong bipartisan support for the bill, and at the 11th hour, senator toomey decides he wants to rewrite the bill, change the rules, and tank it. how he convinced 25 of his colleagues to change their vote i have no idea. what the hell? how does this happen? how do you change your mind when you're about to make a law that is going to save lives? it makes no sense. it is an outrage and there has
to be accountability. we have to go to these 25 offices and make sure everyone of the senators understands that they have just sentenced veterans to death because they will not have the health care that they have earned. they have put their politics before the life and well-being of service members who have given everything to this country. for what? for some political stunt? for some b.s.? what did they do it for and why did they do it? they put politics before the lives of our families, our loved ones, are service members, our veterans who have given every last measure. there is no excuse. it is total b.s. [applause] >> go ahead.
>> i chair the veterans affairs committee in the house of representatives. earlier this month, the house once again passed my honoring our pact act and i hoped that today the senate would take final actions needed to get this bill to the president. instead, we are standing here empty-handed because of the incomprehensible actions of republican senators, who yet again have allowed naked partisanship and political gamesmanship to deny our veterans the care they deserve. 34 republicans originally voted with all of the democrats in the house to get this bill over to the senate. i want to thank those 34 republicans, because they gave us the momentum to get an 84-vote passage in the senate. frankly, this bill should have
passed the house unanimously the first time and it should have passed unanimously in the senate. that is how fundamental this issue of taking care of our veterans is. it should have been a unanimous vote. but it was remarkable that we got what we got. the same senator who held up the pact act yet again has stood in the way. he has done this despite knowing of the veterans this would help, knowing the veterans' sacrifice behind it, and the blood, sweat, and tears shed by the veteran community to finally get this done. he claims that this bill has a slush fund, but this is absolutely not true. we have a fund that will allow us to pay for the cost. this fund comes with all of the other safeguards of the appropriations process and congressional oversight. it allows us not to pit
americans against americans in a struggle of winners and losers. this fund allows us to take care of veterans while also ensuring kids can eat and we have older americans in need. there is no question as to where democrats stand on prioritizing americans -- america's veterans. we have backed up our words with concrete action. finally, i have to agree with what was said last night, you don't get to pander to service members about how you represent them and then turn around and stab them in the back. veterans are tired of patriotic platitudes and hollow expressions of "thank you for your service." this is bullshit. america's veterans have demanded action, instead they have senate republicans hiding behind hollow arguments, when the moral
responsibility of caring for veterans has been crystal clear. this bill gives the mechanism to pay for the true cost of war, the human cost of war. for years, toxic exposed veterans have held up their end of the deal and for some senate republicans, i guess that is not enough. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, chairman, and thank you for your leadership. i represent california's 36 congressional district. i'm an emergency medicine for dish and -- physician and cochair. i want to thank all of the incredible veterans and the families joining us here today because you are the reason why we are here and you are the reason why we fight. standing here today, i have to say i'm pretty pest off. in fact i'm livid. we had a chance right now to make a monumental change in the
lives of our servicemen and women and partisan gamesmanship is getting in the way. this is exactly the type of ballshit -- bullshit that disgusts me about this place. the honoring are packed is a bipartisan bill -- our pact is a bipartisan bill. the last time, we had to pass it because of a never from the senate. we sent it back, pretty much the same bill, and now we are here again demanding for a passage in the senate. demanding for senate republicans to put politics aside, to stop playing games, and to get sick and dying veterans the benefits and care that they have earned, deserve, and so desperately need. enough is enough. our veterans don't have the time for this bill to go back and forth again and again. they don't have time for
technical errors, partisan games, and needless filibustering. they need the presumptive benefits right now. their lives are quite literally on the line and i will not stand by and watch as burn pit exposed veterans across the country are denied the care they need because of some in the senate didn't get their way. it needs to stop and i will continue to fight tooth and nail until it gets done. i will continue to fight in memory of jennifer from cathedral city who died from pancreatic cancer because of her burn pit exposure in iraq. i will continue to fight for veterans like alejandr from palm desert who developed testicular cancer caused by his exposure during his service overseas. i will continue to fight for the millions of veterans across the country who have been exposed to burn pits and other toxins until they get the care they need.
the fight for our burn pits exposed veterans is not over. for years, i've helped lead the charge and i'm not giving up. we are not giving up. not now, not ever. and i will keep pushing for the presumptive benefits that are at the heart and soul of this bill to take the burden off of our dying veterans to prove that they are sick as a result of their service. i will continue pushing until we get this legislation signed into law. our nation's veterans would never turn their back on their country and we cannot turn our backs on them. again, enough is enough. let's put politics aside and let's get this done for our veterans. now, i'm going to turn it over to our speaker, nancy pelosi. [applause] >> thank you. for our very passionate and very
well-informed comments about how we have to meet the needs of our veterans. the other day, within this past week, we had a meeting of our veterans service organizations. we were talking about what comes next, but we did consider a celebration in anticipation that the pact act would pass the senate. it is bipartisan, the senate has worked its will on the legislation, and we passed that version under leadership -- is mark here? the chairman of our veterans committee. he was so responsible for the legislation. raul ruiz. he has been on this issue for a long time. and of course the camp lejeune water issue. senator tester's leadership was so important and i'm so pleased
that he and the ranking member voted for the legislation. but i'm very sad that 80% of the republicans in the united states senate said no to veterans yesterday. 80%. 40 votes no. the veterans have waited too long. long overdue. 3.5 million veterans will benefit, will have the possibility of benefiting from this legislation. why subject them to this? at the same time yesterday, we were having our rollout of people over politics. and when it comes to our veterans, we have always driven to work in a bipartisan way. we think we owe that to them and try to find the most common, bipartisan ground. so, this is very, very disappointing. it is hard to explain.
it has an immorality to it, that 80% of republicans would say no to our veterans. defying what we say, we leave no veteran behind. i think all of you because inside maneuvering can take us so far. the outside mobilization has been were yesterday. i thank jon stewart, jon field. where is john both of our john's here. you're over there. give him my love. okay. but i mean we all share the dismay at all of this. it's a missed opportunity. it's a missed opportunity. it's hard to explain, but we will not stop until we get the job done. i don't know what we can do to convince the republicans to do the right thing except public opinion weighing in, we know
what happened, you have to say to them, why did you abandon our veterans come home, so that when they come home we leave no veteran behind. but that i'm very pleased to yield to senator brown. and thank you. thank you so much. i spoke to leader schumer on my way here that of course we're all getting so much done as we prepare for what comes next. sherrod brown has been a champion on this issue, proclaimed leader on it. i thank you. i thank senator tester and now i welcome sherrod brown as a leader for our veterans to the program. [applause] >> thank you, madam speaker. it's always an honor to be on the same platform with speaker pelosi, the greatest speaker in the history of this institution. so thanks dr ruiz. thank you. senator gillibrand, congresswoman loria dr shulkin
congressman takano, thank you. five years ago susan -- five years ago, susan came to me. susan lives in northern ohio on behalf of her son in law who was suffering from illness from the burn pits. and susan has been joined by her daughter and her granddaughter at rally after rally. susan came to this today expecting us to celebrate the final passage and the bill on the way to the president of the united states. and she fully expected that we all fully expected that until a few hours ago till late yesterday when for whatever reason republicans decided that there are political calculations and their politics are more than what we do for this nation's verdicts. and think about think about what this is when when heath robinson, after whom this bill is named when heath robinson went to serve this country. we, he took an oath to protect
this country. we some ways dr ruiz and speaker pelosi, you notice we take an oath to welcome them home and to provide for them when they're home and we know this exposure to burn pits the cancers and the bronchial diseases and all that come from this. we know their lives are at risk, their health is at risk. we were this close. it's been it's been more than five years, five years since she and i talked and she got me on board this and joined by senator tester and gillibrand and so many others and speaker pelosi and it's time we do this, do this. and every day we wait for more soldiers and more marines and more people coming home and not getting the health care that they have think back to agent orange that they had to prove each case and beg the v.a. to take care of them and say, well, my illness was caused by georgia. my illness was caused by these burn, my exposure to burn pits. no, they shouldn't have to do that. and that's what this bill is all about. and i would close with this and i know that senator gillibrand is absolutely on board with this and all of us that we stay here and her granddaughter is here.
good to see you. so, his daughter and, i'll close with this. that we, you know, the senate is expected are scheduled to go home after next weekend, next week to go to do our things in the state and in our districts. we don't leave here. we stay until this is done. as long as republicans keep trying to block this, we stay here. we keep meeting. it doesn't matter how hot it is here. it doesn't matter the pressure. we've got to get this done and my commitment and i know senator tester's and senator gillibrand and speaker pelosi and senator schumer is to stay until the until the heath robinson pact act is concluded until veterans are assured they're going to be taken care of if they were exposed to these burn pits. thank you. [applause] >> hi, i'm david shulkin, the former secretary of the v.a. i just have to say that i thought i was coming with a different set of comments. i thought we were finally gonna
recognize the end of a long, long injustice for our veterans. but when i see the men and women that are here today and i hear from so many veterans all the time who continue to suffer. all that we can say is is that they're gonna need to continue to wait. the irony is about today, we actually shouldn't need congress to have to step in and do legislation to fix this. the disability system that we have in this country for our veterans is broken. it's actually backwards. we make our veterans wait until data is developed scientific data to prove outcomes. and as we all know, science takes a long time. it's hard to get this data, yet we make our veterans wait. when we need our military, our men and women to respond in the situation, they don't wait. they don't say i want to study the geographic political situation before they respond. they're there for us. they put their lives on the line. they fight for us and we are going to continue to fight for them until this injustice is
finally fixed until our men and women get the service and benefits that they deserve. and we're going to be there until that happens. thank you. applause >> bob kerrey. bob here? bob kerrey, independence fund. >> thank you very much, senator. and we, we echo what senator brown just said. the independence fund is a veteran service organization that helps combat veterans catastrophically wounded veterans, their families and their caregivers and that's who's being harmed here. people tell us so we can get this passed in september or during lame duck when you have cancer, when you are sick a month, two months is a lifetime both figuratively and possibly literally. we've got to pass this now. stay in session. stay all night. we'll bring coffee and doughnuts tomorrow morning. stay all weekend. i'll ask the capitol hill police to turn a blind eye while i cook hamburgers and hot dogs.
stay here. i didn't get the chance to go home when i was getting up at 3:00 a.m. in the morning for the revelry watch on my ship. i didn't get the chance to go home when my sister passed away, my sister in law passed away. i did not get to go home when i had the opportunity to even help my sick mom. i could not. why they think they can go home now is beyond me. stay in session. stay and get it done. this doesn't end today. we will continue this fight. many great v.s.o. is have done this for far longer than i've been working on this and i'm proud to be amongst them. but we need to get this done and we need to get this done now. >> christina keanan veterans of
foreign wars. >> my name is christina keen unanimous on the behalf of the v.f.w., the veterans of foreign wars of the united states. i want to express our disappointment in the failed procedural vote by the senate yesterday which has again delayed passage of the honoring our pact act. nothing has changed since june 16th when 84 senators voted to pass the pact act in a bipartisan manner. yet yesterday 25 senators changed their votes even though the bill is the same. they voted yes. last month promises were made and promises were broken. senators cotton ernst sullivan are veterans and they are delaying healthcare for some of the men and women that they served with. the v.f.w. has been clear. pass the pact act now. no senator should leave for the august recess for their vacations or their campaigns until the pact act has passed the house has done its job.
no senators should leave next week until they take care of the people who fought to defend this country. no more delays. pass the pact act now. thank you. >> our next speaker is lawrence montreal, american legion. >> good morning, my name is lawrence montreal. i'm the national legislative director for the american legion. and on behalf of the american legion and our nearly 2 million members, i would like to emphasize the fact that this delay is absolutely unacceptable. a bill that passed the house of representatives three times it passed the senate with wide ranging bipartisan support, 84 senators voting in favor of it will be delayed once again and as a result, veterans will suffer. the bill's genesis came from the fact that 70% of veterans with illnesses related to burn pits were being denied and as a result couldn't access healthcare. sick veterans couldn't meet the
burden of proof. the pact act passed the house and the senate in a bipartisan manner. yet this delay continues because of political games. there's no reason this bill should not be signed by the president by the end of next week. every day that this delay goes on, veterans are unable to receive care. this is wrong. we will not stand by and allow veterans to be denied their duly owed healthcare, for cancer patients, one month delay makes all the difference. the american legion demands that congress and this delay allow our veterans to receive the health care they desperately need and have earned. >> thank you, tom porter, iraq and afghanistan veterans. >> thank you. i'm tom porter with iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. a lot of us -- a lot of us here often talk about how long we've been working on this issue that impacts 3, 4 million veterans in the united states.
that's not really what is most important. what is most important is the impact of the delays on this whole process. and we're up close and personal on this and we see the direct impacts. so often we're here with friends of ours, my friends here that need help breathing because of their, because of their illnesses from their deployment. that's the real picture of the impacts of this. then there are also people that aren't here with us anymore. i i can remember a little over a year ago, wesley black was one of our advocates on this stuff. he would do tv and come to the hill. there was one press conference that we showed up with senator gillibrand and he wasn't there because he was too sick and i died shortly after that. we lost, we lost reps along the way, there is kate hendricks thomas that had been an advocate on this bill as well. and then a few months ago, she wasn't able to make the press conference and her friend mindy that is back here too and with us and she is here to tell her
story because kate died and left behind a little boy. and then we're also joined here by the namesake of this bill, heath robinson, his mother and his little daughter debrisell, you met, 9 years old. debrisell and susan were walking the allways with me stopping in every senate office. that day we visited every senate office in a single day and 9-year-old bielle in the name of her father wrote out personal requests for senators in crayon and personally handed them to staff. the problem with all this, there is a lot of problems with all this. the big problem that i see right now is that last night, 41 senators ignored the pleas of veterans of all generations and their kids that are asking for the votes and voted no. i guess what kind of bothers me a bit more and you have home runs heard it already, 25 of
those senators voted yes on this bill before they voted against it. no explanation. first the same bill and they voted against it and christina said there are several of them that are veterans, that's especially bad. how can fellow veterans turn their backs and stab us in the back like that. you know, there is a friend of mine that does a radio show, joe griffey, he often asks me, how is this bill going, how is this bill going. i explain about what happened about the cloture process and why they would vote either way. tom, tom, tom, why is it the veteran always the one that gets screwed, why, that is the thing. everybody doesn't understand the entry casses about party politics and closet politics, why do veterans always get screwed. what we all have in common
today, we got screwed by 41 senators and 25 who voted with us and many of them issued press releases after their last vote bragging about how they voted for the pact act and how they had veterans backs. you just screwed veterans yesterday. we're going to hold them accountable. we need all of you to help out, too, thank you for being here. >> alex brosque, wounded warrior project. >> i'm alex morawski with wounded warrior project. here we are again, we were hoping to be standing here on the. pact act becoming law. that's not the case. the bill passed with a decisive 85-14 vote.
yesterday, 25 of those senators changed their vote to no on a virtual identical bill. why did they do that? we don't know. what we do no is what they those to do is extend a timetable that veterans with toxic wounds don't have. what we also know is that veterans died during this past month since the last vote and now more veterans are going to die because of the vote yesterday. we just lost another warrior last week. he served around burn pits in afghanistan and he had pancreatic cancer. people in their mid 30s are not supposed to have pancreatic cancer. we were passing the condolence card around our office this week to his family. he died before this bill could be passed. how many more is it going to take? and if the senate goes home before this gets passed, how many more. we make a promise to people who
serve in the military that we'll support them if they get wounded. passing the pact act day would have finally kept that promise for veterans with toxic wounds, but instead, that promise is still being broken. so in our view, the senate should pass this bill without amendment which would only send it back to the house and create further delays and the senate should do this before they go home for august recess because sick veterans can't wait any longer. [applause] >> no more excuses, no more delays, no more broken promises, pass the pact act now. >> agreed. [applause] >> next speaker, military office association of america. >> thank you, senator, thank you for everybody for being here today. 84-14, that sat vote we got a month ago on this bill, 25
senators changed their position on caring for toxic exposed veterans. this bill would have benefited 3.5 million veterans who have been put on the fast track for getting their wounds, their care and benefits they needed but yesterday, every single veteran and every single member of their families felt the floor fall out from underneath them. veterans are angry and confused at the sudden change from those they thought had their backs. the following are statements who voted for it in june but against it yesterday. here is june. as we work to insure our nation's military is provided for, it is also vitally important that our veterans receive the care and benefits they have rightfully earned. another senator said, our veterans sacrifice so much to protect our freedoms and keep us safe. i was proud to vote for the pact act today which provides critical funding and support for those exposed to toxic
environments like burn pits during service. senators, the bill didn't change. is caring for veterans no longer vital? why are you no longer proud to vote for the pact act? you said that you wanted to see this bill signed into law, why did you help block it. sadly, veterans and v.s.o.s.'s have been here before. our veterans call on our nation to help for our wounds of war and certain make certain lawmakers delay it while we die. we will do what we have always done in this situation. we will regroup, rally together and fight back together to get this bill over the finish line. our services taught us to work as a team and our service has fortified our resolve to never quit and never leave a fallen comrade. we will abide by that ethos and charge forward together to get the pact act pass. everyone needs to call, write and visit their senators offices. the senate should not go home
until this bill is passed. thank you. [applause] >> next speaker is candice wheeler at taps. >> as the leading voice for the families of those who died as a result of illnesses connected to toxic exposure and a founding some member of the tox imexposure in the american military coalition, the program for survivors is grateful to senator schumer, senator gillibrand, chairman tester, ranking memory moran, speaker pelosi, and many others for their leadership on the pact act. like everyone here, we watched the senate cloture vote yesterday in disbelief. our veterans deserve better. their families, care givers and survivors deserve better. we urge the senate to pass this historic legislation without further delay. it is our nation's moral
obligation to care for our veterans and their survivors. every day the pact act is delayed is precious time lost for our veterans suffering from the effects of toxic exposure. for some it will be the difference between early cancer detection and stage foreign on early cancer. the senate must act now, stay in session and not go on vacation. they must pass the pact act now because every day matters. thank you. [applause] >> our next speaker is rosie. >> for 13 years, we have come to our nation's capital with the hope and faith that those we we elected into office would fulfill their moral obligation. we organize, we mobilize, we even called jon stewart and jon
field. together with those we marched the halls of congress with their children, with their families. yesterday 25 villains along with senator toomey voted to kill a bill that would provide healthcare and compensation to several generations of veterans. we sat here and discussed how many people flipped their vote. what about we pay attention to those that are sick and dying. what about we pay attention to those that are putting a gun to their head because congress and these senators have screwed them so badly. it's bull shit and it's time for us to pass the pact act. no more delays, no more delay tactics. our veterans are sick and dying but one thing they will not do is give in to your bull shit tactics. we will organize at everyone of your district offices, veterans will not train to give up. they were trained to fight.
we will mobilize our veteran community and we will mobilize america. senator toomey, how many veterans are going to die without their treatment because of you and other senators who voted no. please explain to us what is an acceptable amount of death. [applause] >> next speaker, jon stewart. >> from the mother-in-law of the late sergeant robinson, the namesake of honor our pact act. i have been wearing this army jacket for five years, carrying him on my shoulders because he couldn't lobby with me. he couldn't stand up for himself because he was too sick. i'm going to take you on a
little journey of what these reprehensible senators voted for. heath was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer in 2017. six months prior to that. he ran a half marathon. he was an active duty member of the ohio army national guard because he was employed by the national guard. in 2012 and 2013, heath was the ohio national guard n.g.o. soldier of the year. when that happened, he had all of his politicians, congresswoman joyce beatty flew a flag over the capitol in honor of him being soldier of the year. current director of veteran services in ohio, general debra ashen hurst had him at her house for a party to honor him.
on may 6, 2020 when he died, the only politician we heard from was senator sherrod brown. nobody, nobody from the ohio national guard even reached out to my daughter or my family or his daughter. now, i'm going to tell you something that i have never told before. people here do not know, heath was not our family's only casualty. in late 2015, my daughter learned she was pregnant around valentine's day. this was a year before we knew heath had been exposed to toxins. several weeks after her positive pregnancy test, there was no heart beat because they had tricare insurance. tricare forced her to miscarry
naturally. six weeks later, danielle had not miscarried. she carried a nonviable little fetus through christmas, through new year's until her obstetrician, after i begged him to do the d and c if tricare wouldn't pay for it. finally they paid for it. after it happened, her obstetrician told her and heath, i advise you to not get pregnant again. this is three years after this little one was born. she told them there is something seriously genetically wrong with one of you. what we removed surgically did not even resemble anything human.
now, we didn't know about burn pits and the toxic exposures until a year later, but you could pay me $1 million right now to ask me to say that did not affect my second grandchild from being so deformed, they didn't even know what they had. a year later, heath is diagnosed with lung cancer and a rare autoimmune disease. he was still active duty, so the tricare, everything was good. after they medically retired him and he went into the v.a. system, everything went to hell. the v.a. denied him prescription drug medication to mitigation extremely painful side effects from the cancer treatments. these victims have side effects. they have victims that no other cancer patients have.
these doctors, they send them from hospital to hospital all around columbus, ohio, because they didn't know what to do with him. when he was discharged from the hospital, the v.a. denied to fill that prescription. my daughter is a doctor of physical therapy. she had a full-time job taking care of a young child and 24-hour care of her sick and dying husband. i moved in with them for the last 10 months of his life to help. they applied for v.a. care giver benefits so that danielle to cake a leave from work and be compensated to care for her soldier, iraq war veteran husband, the v.a. denied the benefit. even the nurse that did the evaluation, said he was the highest level of needing, care giver, around the clock, they denied it and the reason they said it was denied because he could not prove it was burn pit
or combat-related. so in the months ensuing after the v.a. denied his prescription medication and he was in such extreme pain, my daughter totally exhausted, no sleep for days, i'm picking her up off the floor she is collapsing in front of her child on the floor in exhaustion, i'm laying on the floor trying to comfort her, heath is over on the sofa puking and a bloody nose and coughing and i'm trying to take care of two people at once which is virtually impossible. so heath asked my daughter and i to overdose him because he wanted to put us out of our suffering. he felt guilty because he caused
us to suffer and he didn't want to do it anymore. he begged us for two months to do this. that meant neither she or i could ever leave him alone for one minute for those two months. and i'm telling you right now, senator toomey, senator rob portman was heath's senator voted no, they voted against my family. they voted for all of us to suffer. they are endorsing our suffering. they are endorsing her suffering. they're endorsing his suffering. they're endorsing kevin's suffering, they're endorsing rosy and her husband's suffering. they don't get a shit about veterans and like someone said before. every single one has pictures
with veterans on their facebook pages, on their websites, well, screw that, they don't support veterans. if you vote no on this bill, you do not support veterans. the burden of proof is on these verdicts to prove it was combat-related. so we couldn't hold up that burden of proof while heath was alive. so after he died with the help of dr. robert miller from vanderbilt university, he coordinated a lung autopsy for us. i'm going to tell you what this lung autopsy showed and you tell me, senator toomey, senator rob portman if you think heath's lung cancer was caused by toxic exposure. we know he had lung cancer. he also possibly had corrective
-- a lung disease which they couldn't fully define because his lung tissue was oh,o h bit -- so obliterated by the cancer. he had deformed blood vessels. he had cells in his lungs that no pathologist could identify, but his lung cancer was not caused by him inhaling toxic burn pit smoke. and i have one more thing to say about senator mike lee. a few days ago when they were bringing this debate up on the senate floor, we were all watching to hear some discussion about the pact act. senator mike lee got up and gave a very passionate plea to every single one of his senate colleagues. he told a story about a navy
seaman who was based in iraq who was in a car accident, he had a health episode and he passed out while he was driving and unfortunately two people in another car were killed. so the japanese justice system decided he needed to be arrested and incarcerated. a couple days ago, he turned himself in to be incarcerated for a year for causing the death of two japanese that was an accident because he had a health problem. senator mike lee was urging all these senators to get together and get this guy out of prison because he is unjustly incarcerated. and then he told the senators, we need to show our veterans and our military that we have their backs. well, he doesn't have their backs. he picks and chooses which backs he has so he can have a field
good story to get all of the senators to jump onboard his cause. he doesn't have tim's back, andrea's back, kevin's back, he doesn't have her back, her husband's back, he doesn't have my family's back and i'm done and the next time i come back here, it better be to sign the damn bill at the white house because i'm sick and tired of this bullshit. [applause] >> our last speaker. i know we are frustrated, we are all frustrated. angry, exaggerated. this bill didn't pass soon enough, we buried her in arlington two weeks ago. and it wasn't sue enough for brielle who was crying next to the podium because she lost her family. i think the worst part about this, though, is that i don't
believe the vote yesterday represented the interests of the american people. the american people that i know are very anxious to insure that our warriors are taken care of to the extent that they have earned. i am very grateful for the bipartisan support we have received on this bill. those who are willing to stand up to their peers and take another stance and i'm trusting that those who want to tweak this bill will adjust it quickly and it will pass before the senate recess in augustus as senator toomey has promised. senator toomey, i heard you, you promised. i believe that's what the american people want and more importantly, it's the right thing to do. we can't be so caught up in every detail that we lost the forest for the trees. the point of this bill, we insure veterans, veterans who are suffering and dying right
now from toxic exposure are given the benefits they need as soon as possible. so many of our lawmakers want to do the right thing here and it's important that we continue to enable those lawmakers who have veterans needs closest to their hearts, let's do the right thing. [applause] >> good morning. i'm the national legislative director. d.a.v. is greatly disappointed by yesterday's vote, but, hey, it's ok, it's ok because everybody is saying, well, it's inevitable. we're going to pass the pact act. it's intestifiable. you know what else is inevitable, veterans suffering and dying without access to healthcare and benefits. that is what is also inevitable.
for example, there is a vietnam veteran in indiana right now who had an appeal with a veterans law judge in front of the board of veterans appeals for access to benefits based on his agent orange exposure in guam which is a part of the pact act. the judge stayed it beyond 60 days. year beyond that. we said it's ok, another vietnam veteran, another comrade in arms is going to be delayed access that may save his life. that's all right because it's inevitable that it's eventually going to pass. enough is enough. enough is enough. how many more delays, how many more deaths, how many more suffering veterans, just to be able to wake up in the morning and not hurt, to be actually sleep at night, to be able to
breathe without suffering. enough is enough. stop the delays. the pact act must be passed now before congress leaves town for their recess, their vacation. let's call it their vacation. we must pass it now. [applause] >> jon stewart. >> so ain't this a bitch? ain't this a bitch? america's heroes who fought in our wars outside sweating their asses off, with oxygen battling all kinds of ailments while these mother fuckers sit in the air conditioning walled off from any of it. they don't have to hear it. they don't have to see it.
they don't have to understand that these are human beings, do you get it yet? do we see that these -- these are heroes. these are men and women, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers that we just let stand outside in the heat when they can't breathe. i'm going to read you something. this is beautiful. i want to read you something beautiful. you know what, i said a curse word and i'm sorry about that. that was my fault. let me say something beautiful. there is a tweet from senator rick scott of florida from yesterday. it's beautiful. and i'm sorry about the cursing and let me say something beautiful to make it up to you. i was honored to join the u.s.o. today and make care packages for our brave military members in
gratitude, in gratitude of their sacrifice and service to our nation and there is a beautiful picture, i wish you could see it. he is standing with a little package. did you get the package? it has m&ms in it and some cookies and some moisture towelettes? honestly, i don't what to say. i haven't come down 10, 15 years. i'm used to the hypocrisy. from the v.f.q., she sat in the office with mitch mcconnell and a war veteran from kentucky and he looked that man in the eyes and he said, we'll get it done. and he lied to him. mitch mcconnell yesterday flipped. i'm used to the lies. i'm used to the hypocrisy. senator pat toomey won't take a
meeting with the veterans groups. he sends out his chief of staff. i'm used to the cowardies i have been here a long time. these people don't care, they're never losing their job. they're never losing his healthcare. pat toomey didn't lose his job, he is walking away. god knows what kind of pot of gold he is stepping into to lobby this government to shit on more people. i'm used to all of it. i am not used to the cruelty. they passed it. june 16, they passed the pact act. 84-14, you don't even see those scores in the senate anymore. they passed it. every one of these individuals that has been fighting for years
standing on the shoulders of vietnam veterans who have been fighting for years standing on the shoulders of persian gulf war veterans fighting for years, desert storm veterans, to just get the healthcare and benefits that they earned from their service and i don't care if they were fighting for our freedom. i don't care if they were fighting for the flag. i don't care if they were fighting because they wanted to get out of a drug treatment center or it was jail or the army. i don't give a shit, they lived up to their oath and yesterday they spit on it in abject cruelty. these people thought they could finally breathe. do you think their struggles end because the pact act passes. all it means is they don't have to decide between their cancer drugs and their house. their struggle continues. >> this bill does a lot more than healthcare. >> it gives them healthcare, benefits, let's them live.
>> keeps veterans from going homeless. keeps veterans from becoming addicts. keeps veterans from committing suicide. >> senator toomey is not going to hear that because he won't sit down with this man because he is a fucking coward. you hear me! a coward. [applause] >> and like i say, i'm used to it. this type of cruelty on those that we say we hold up as our most valued americans, then what are we? pat toomey stood up there patriot pat toomey, i'm sorry, i want to give him his propers. i want to make sure i give him his propers. patriot pat toomey stood on the floor, this is a slush fund, they're going to use $400 billion to spend on whatever they want. that's nonsense.
i call bullshit. this isn't a slush fund. you know what's a slush fund, the o.c. o., the overseas contingency operations fund, $60 billion, $70 billion, every year on top of $500 billion, $600 billion, $700 billion of the defense budget, that's a slush fund, unaccountable, no guard rails. did pat pooly stand up and say this irresponsible, the guard rails, no. not one of them did. they vote for it year after year after year. you don't support the troops, you support the war machine. that's all you care about. >> he personally signed the proclamation to send me to war. >> they haven't met a war they won't sign up for and they haven't met a veteran they won't screw over. what the fuck are we?
>> barbaric. >> barbaric. >> and now they're going to go away. pat toomey says, i got veterans groups behind me. i call bullshit! these are the veterans groups! v.f.w., american legion, iava, wounded warriors, d.a.v., am vets, they're here, this is the veterans community, senator. they don't stand behind you. in fact, you won't let them stand in front of you. >> coward. >> cowards all of them. cowards all of them. they say this will get done, maybe after we get back from our summer recess, maybe during the lame duck because they're on senate time. do you understand, you live around here. senate time is ridiculous -- these mother fuckers learn to 200. they're tortoises. they live forever and they never lose their jobs and they never
lose their benefits and they never lose other things. they're not on senate time, they're on human time, cancer time. [applause] >> don't you have families? don't you have people who are deciding how to live their last moments. i know some of them. they have been down here advocating with us. they spent their remaining time advocating so that other soldiers didn't have to face the indignities and the deprivate and the desperation that they face and none of them will hear it and none of them will care except the tweet, boy, they'll tweet it. can't wait to see what they come up with on veterans day or memorial day, well, this is the reality of it. i honestly don't even know what to say anymore but we need your help because we're not leaving. these people cannot go away. i don't know if you know this. obviously, i'm not a military expert. i didn't serve in the military.
but from what i understand, you're not allowed to just leave your post when the mission isn't completed. apparently, you take an oath, you swear an oath and you can't leave, but these folks can leave because they're on senate time. go ahead, go home, spend time with your families because these people can't do it anymore. so they can't leave until they gets done because these people will not give up, they will not give in and they will not relent, this is an embarrassment to the senate, to the country, to the founders and all that they profess to hold dear. and if this is america first, then america is fucked. [applause] >> any questions? >> do you see an avenue?
what do you see -- >> i think everyone here needs to be heard by every single one of the senators that changed their votes. i hope we can have an increased lobbying effort to every single office, this is an outrage, it's unacceptable and cannot stand. we just need to fight until it gets done. we have to keep advocating and keep pushing. i'm going to go to the floor and ask unanimous consent as many times as i need to get this back on the floor. if i can get floor time, i will. >> we need the votes. we need 25 people to change their minds. the only way to change their minds is if everyone is heard. we increase our lobbying effort, our voices, the volume of our voices and the effectiveness of our voices. we must change those 25 votes back. >> did the republicans say they changed their -- >> it came out of nowhere. it was total bullshit. we have to make sure they hear