Wednesday at 6:03 p.m., Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) took to Twitter to make sure people would know that he supports US military personnel.
“I was honored to participate [the United Service Organizations] today and make care packages for our brave military members in thanks for their sacrifice and service to our nation,” Scott wrote, alongside photos of him at an event hosted that day by the nonprofit in Washington, DC.
Minutes later, Scott voted with other Senate Republicans to block progress on the PACT Act, a bipartisan bill that would expand health care and disability benefits for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals and fire pits during their military service.
Scott wasn’t the only Republican to greet veterans just before he stood in the way of legislation that would improve their lives.
GOP Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) also posted pictures of themselves at the USO event. “Members of our military are among the best and brightest in the country,” Romney wrote.
“Every little bit helps, and I’m glad I got to play a small part in supporting our troops,” Hyde-Smith said in her post.
About an hour before casting his “no” vote, Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) tweeted about meeting the Montana Independent Living Project that day to hear about “the important work they are doing to help disabled Montanans, veterans and seniors.”
In all, more than 40 Republicans, including Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), voted against the bill.
At a veterans news conference Thursday morning on Capitol Hill, a visibly incensed Jon Stewart — the comedian turned vocal advocate for vets — poked Scott for his tweet about curating care packages.
“It’s beautiful,” Stewart said sarcastically of Scott’s post. ‘Did you receive the package? I think there’s M&Ms in there, and some cookies and some damp towels. Frankly, I don’t even know what to say. I’ve been coming here for 10, 15 years – I’m used to the hypocrisy.”
“None of them care — except to tweet,” Stewart added. “Boy, they’ll tweet it. Can’t wait to see what they come up with on Veterans Day, Memorial Day. Well, this is the reality.”
In a statement following Wednesday’s vote, Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said Republicans had chosen “to rob generations of toxic-exposed veterans in this country of the health care and benefits they so desperately need — and make no mistake, more veterans will suffer and die because of this.”
“This 11th-hour cowardice will actively harm the veterans of this country and their families,” he said.