Comedian Jon Stewart and conservative journalist Jack Posobiec got into an altercation over controversially crafted legislation that would provide funds for veterans who have suffered a variety of ailments from exposure to burn pits, but managed to come to an understanding moments later.
The former late-night comedian — who has advocated for veterans harmed by burn pits on Capitol Hill — and the Navy intelligence officer-turned journalist have been in the midst of a tense Twitter argument for several days over the PACT Act, a bill intended to help veterans who were affected by exposure to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to reporting from The Daily Wire, “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.”
Republicans oppose the legislation because they say House Democrats have included an accounting trick that the Congressional Budget Office says could add a minimum of $275 billion in unrelated spending over the next decade.
Stewart and Posobiec’s Twitter war suddenly became real as the two met up in Washington, D.C. on Monday, where the comedian immediately created a dramatic scene.
“These people have suffered for 15 years!” Stewart screamed at the conservative journalist, pointing a finger in his face.
Posobiec, who managed to stay calm despite the situation, responded by asking Stewart why he was attacking him when both of them unquestionably support health care for veterans.
“Because you’re a f***ing troll!” Stewart shouted in response.
Jon Stewart is Unhinged. Watch him scream and swear in @JackPosobiec’s face.
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) August 1, 2022
The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which was initially passed the Senate in June, had to go through the Senate once again because House Democrats decided to make major changes to the legislation.
Last Wednesday, because of those changes, Senate Republicans filibustered the bill — effectively blocking it. The GOP senators claim that their opposition to the legislation stems from an added Democrat provision that would move appropriated funds from discretionary to mandatory spending. They assert that this is an accounting trick, as mandatory expenditures no longer fall under annual appropriations, which could potentially allow them to be renewed automatically every year with little or no oversight.
Posobiec has spent much of the last week attempting to argue this point to Stewart on Twitter.
Republicans such as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) have signaled their support for the bill, as long as the accounting gimmick is removed. The Pennsylvania senator has proposed an amendment putting guardrails on the $400 billion, which would alleviate concerns expressed by Senate Republicans and potentially allow the legislation 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.
Following their tense argument, Posobiec and Stewart appeared to bury the hatchet in a moment captured on video.
“Jon Stewart and I have decided to come to an agreement, have we not, Jon?” Posobiec said.
“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.”
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