Jon Stewart and conservative journalist Jack Posobiec had heated words over a controversially crafted bill that would provide funds for sick veterans, but managed to hug it out moments later.
The former late-night funny man and the Navy intelligence officer-turned journalist have been sparring on Twitter for days over a bill intended to provide $400 billion for veterans who suffered a wide range of ailments from exposure to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq. Republicans have objected to the bill because they say House Democrats used an accounting trick that the Congressional Budget Office said could add a minimum of $275 billion in unrelated spending over the next decade.
When Posobiec and Stewart met up in Washington Monday, it was on.
“These people have suffered for 15 years!” Stewart shouted at Posobiec, pointing a finger in his face.
Posobiec, who stayed calm, asked Stewart why he was attacking him, given that they both unquestionably support health care for veterans.
“Because you’re a f—ing troll!” yelled back Stewart, who has advocated for veterans sickened by burn pits on Capitol Hill.
The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, passed the Senate in June, but had to go through again after House Democrats made key changes. Senate Republicans last Wednesday filibustered the measure, effectively blocking it. Their reason is an added Democratic provision they say would move appropriated funds from discretionary to mandatory spending. Mandatory expenditures would no longer fall under annual appropriations and could conceivably be renewed automatically every year with little or no oversight, say Republicans.
Posobiec has spent much of the last week trying to make this point to Stewart on Twitter.
Jon Stewart is Unhinged. Watch him scream and swear in @JackPosobiec’s face.
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) August 1, 2022
Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, have also been making the case that the GOP supports the aid to veterans but not under the new terms proposed by Democrats. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said Sunday that he would vote for the legislation if the gimmick can be cut. He proposed an amendment that would put guardrails on the $400 billion, satisfying GOP concerns and potentially allowing the bill to move forward.
“What I want to do is treat it for government accounting purposes the way we have always treated it for government accounting purposes, because if we change it to the way that the Democrats want, it creates room in future budgets for $400 billion of totally unrelated extraneous spending on other matters,” Toomey said.
I actually give props to Stewart for coming around to doing the right thing here after his ridiculous outburst. Few people can climb down, and we need more of that. https://t.co/CaHAgQvdKt
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) August 1, 2022
Later in the day, Posobiec and Stewart buried the hatchet in a scene also caught on video.
“Jon Stewart and I have decided to come to an agreement, have we not, Jon?” Posobiec asked.
“Yes sir,” said Stewart. “I lost my temper a little bit, I felt like I was being trolled, and I realized the important thing is just got to get this done for these guys, and get them over the finish line to get them the health care they need.”
The bill would establish a presumption that military service caused 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to the smoke from burn pits, fire pits used in war zones to dispose of various types of waste, many of them toxic.