Speed Reads


Schumer announces new vote on burn pits bill blocked by Republicans

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that he plans to hold another vote this week on a military health care bill Republicans blocked on Wednesday.

The bill would provide $250 billion to care for veterans who became sick after being exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Veteran organizations have been fighting for recognition for their maladies — which include everything from irreversible respiratory conditions to cancer — for some 15 years," explained Kelly Vlahos, a senior advisor at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) led the effort to block the bill, claiming that Democrats had inserted a "gimmick" approving $400 billion in unrelated spending. "​People take a sympathetic group of Americans ... craft a bill to address their problems, and then sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never pass on its own," Toomey said on CNN's State of the Union, calling the tactic "the oldest trick in Washington." Schumer agreed to allow a vote on an amendment proposed by Toomey, who said he will support the bill if his amendment passes.

Comedian Jon Stewart, a vocal champion of the bill, responded by denouncing the Republicans who blocked the bill as "motherf--kers" and accusing them of "hypocrisy," "cowardice," and "cruelty."