Jon Stewart Effectively Shames the Soulless Senate
Once again, it takes a media star to pass legislation
In case you missed the drama in the Senate this week — or across social media — here is a play-by-play. It all relates to burn pits. We heard about burn pits in President Biden’s first official State of the Union in March. They were sandwiched somewhere between his call to “Fund the Police” and his Unity Agenda (yes, the one we never heard about again). What is a burn pit? It’s an area of a US military base where toxic chemical waste is burned. The Act would expand healthcare for vets who were exposed to these pits and then developed cancers and other respiratory illnesses. It is pretty common-sense legislation, and there is no reason it should not have enjoyed bipartisan support at all points along its journey from bill to law.
Our government is made up of a band of Middle School boys. They don’t give a singular fuck.
Last month, the Senate passed the PACT Act 84–14. (Its complete title: the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act.) But when the bill came back from the House with minor technical modifications, suddenly the votes disappeared. The 60 votes needed were nowhere to be found. The Act was doomed. Why? The Democrats reached an agreement on the historic climate bill to cut US emissions by 40%.* The GOP was pissed, so they tanked the PACT Act. Jon Stewart, comedian and activist, stepped in, blasting Ted Cruz and his contemptible cronies for their petty retaliatory bullshit. The public shaming worked. On Tuesday, the votes were back, and the bill passed.
(*As of today, we are still waiting for Sinema, the drama queen, to grace us with her support. Should she decide that the very Earth is worth saving, the $433B bill will have the support it needs to move forward.)
So, just to recap: our government is made up of a band of Middle School boys. They don’t give a singular fuck about the lives of people affected by their policies, let alone the very people who put their lives on the line to defend the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” They care only about winning and getting paid to occupy a seat of power. They cackle and fist-bump when they “stick it” to the other side. And they have zero spine or soul. When they kill a bill, apparently no one else on the Hill — in the entire government — can exert pressure of any kind to get them to do the right thing. It takes a comedian with a large social-media presence to call them out, raise his voice (brilliantly), and embarrass them. That’s what it takes to get the American government to serve its people.
I’m not shocked by any of this. I can’t imagine you are either. I just thought Middle School ended at eighth-grade graduation. Apparently for some, it is a lifelong way of being. And we all have to put up with it. Thank God for the class smart-ass. He just saved lives.