Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


Fellow scumbag so-called Senators Ted Cruz and Steve Daines celebrate spite-blocking health care for sick and dying veterans. Screenshot


Way To Go, Guys: Republicans Kill Veterans and Then Fist-Bump To Celebrate, Because Republicans

Abby Zimet

Damn. You think they just can't go any lower and then...a gruesome coda to last week's hissy fit thrown by vindictive Republicans peeved that Democrats managed, this once, to out-McConnell McConnell and get what they want. If you were (understandably) under a rock: After Dems wrangled Manchin into doing his job and helping pass a sweeping $740 billion package to raise taxes on the rich and invest in saving the planet from fiery destruction, petty Repubs whose feelings were hurt looked around for someone else to hurt, decided veterans dying of cancer from exposure to toxic chemicals in burn pits while fighting our - well, really their - mad imperial wars were the perfect target, and spite-blocked a vital health care bill for them that had already passed the Senate 84-14 but got sent back for a one-sentence correction. "Ha!," evidently said 41 eager "stab-vets-in-the-back" Repubs who couldn't abide Democrats actually getting something useful done despite their best, perfidious obstructionist efforts. "This is our chance to own the libs by letting more of those loser, sucker, desperately ill veterans who can't afford cancer treatments die." So they voted to.

The PACT Act they refused to pass was the "Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act." It was named for Heath Robinson, a former Iron Man athlete and medic with the Ohio Army National Guard who served 13 months in Iraq; in 2016, ten years after coming home, he began feeling ill and was diagnosed with a rare cancer and autoimmune disorder from exposure to the enormous, smoldering pits in combat zones where the military burned their waste - chemical weapons, human remains, pesticides, paint cans, computer hardware, fuel. Robinson died in 2020 at age 39, leaving behind a wife and six-year-old daughter; he was one of an unknown number of sick veterans, dating back to victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, who've spent years and sometimes decades fighting the VA for recognition and health care. The story of their arduous journey is told in the documentary "Delay, Deny, Hope You Die:" - a bitter slogan among vets - "How America Poisoned Its Soldiers." The PACT Act, insisted Sen. John Tester, was about "righting a wrong that has been ignored too damn long."

In the Senate after the bill failed, Tester slammed the "eleventh-hour act of cowardice" by vengeful GOPers: "People have lost their minds." Outside, an incendiary Jon Stewart memorably went off, calling out "these motherfuckers (who) haven't met a war they won't sign up for (and) haven't met a veteran they won't screw over." And then the coda: The next day, newly released video from shortly after the vote captured the "truly shameless stuff" that was Sen. (sic) Ted Cruz and Sen. (ditto) Steve Daines bumping fists amidst ill-begotten  GOP handshakes to celebrate their own, smarmy, well-played props for outsmarting dying vets they'll still sanctimoniously thank for their service next Veterans' Day, soulless cretins that they are. But more and more fed-up Americans have their number: Trending were the furious hashtags #RepublicansKillVeterans, #RepublicansAreAHoles and #VeteransDeserveBetter. After the "despicable" fist-bump, Stewart was back on it too, sometimes apoplectically - on his own feed - and sometimes patiently - on Sunday talk shows - calling bullshit on GOP "mumbo-jumbo" in the wake of their calumny and cruelty.

Reiterating PACT already breezed through a Senate ordinarily so divided "you couldn't pass an 'Ice Cream Is Delicious Act,' Stewart ripped the hypocrisy of Pennsylvania Patrick Toomey, who ranted about a Dem spending "trick" that doesn't exist: 100% of the bill goes to veterans' health care so WTF. "Congratulations Senator Toomey. You successfully used the Byzantine Senate rules to keep sick veterans suffering!! Kudos!" Stewart wrote, then riffed on the infamous fist bump and smug handshakes. “I’m sure you’ll celebrate by kicking a dog or punching a baby...or whatever terrible people do for fun!!" He kept at it when "Theodore" Cruz also babbled about "budgetary tricks," "discretionary," "mandatory," yada yada. Stewart  hammered at the facts with slowly rising wrath. "Hold on now, what Ted Cruz is describing is...inaccurate....not true....bullshit." He goes on to explain what isn't in the bill - slush fund, golden toilets - and what is: veterans' health care, period. Neither Dems nor "spending fairies" added a word to what already passed - and what Cruz voted for. "It's the same fucking bill," said Stewart. "This is bullshit." Pan to slimy Cruz thanking veterans, then bumping fists. Stewart, again, with the ugly bottom line: "Motherfucker."

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email:

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Progressives Mobilize in Georgia for Dec. 6 Senate Runoff

Advocacy groups backing Sen. Raphael Warnock call the Democrat a "reproductive rights champion" who is also "fighting to stop the climate crisis and create good jobs in the process."

Jessica Corbett ·

Senate Report Details Failure to Confront 'Persistent and Lethal' Threat of White Supremacists

"The federal government has continued to allocate resources disproportionately aligned to international terrorist threats over domestic terrorist threats," the report reads.

Julia Conley ·

Justice Demanded After Qatari World Cup Official Admits Hundreds of Migrant Worker Deaths

"Until all abuses suffered by migrant workers in Qatar are remedied, the legacy of this World Cup will be severely tarnished by their mistreatment," said Amnesty International's head of economic and social justice.

Brett Wilkins ·

Congressional Labor Caucus Demands More Funding for NLRB Before GOP Takes House

"Workers need the NLRB to receive funding that allows it to fully implement its mission," several Democratic lawmakers told House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer.

Kenny Stancil ·

Progressives in Congress Begin to Push Back Against Biden Betrayal of Rail Workers

"What we're seeing is an inhumane deal being pushed onto workers even after a majority voted it down," said Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo