Cawthorn says US should spend money helping veterans but voted against aid for them

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The North Carolina Republican, who defended voting against a $40 billion U.S. aid package to Ukraine, also voted against a $207 billion veterans' aid package in March.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) sought to justify his vote against a $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package to Ukraine that the House passed on Tuesday night, suggesting that the money would've been better spent on helping American veterans.

"Imagine if we spent $40 Billion on veterans," Cawthorn — who was one of the 57 GOP lawmakers who voted against the Ukraine aid package — tweeted on Wednesday.

However, just two months ago, Cawthorn voted against a sweeping aid package to help millions of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are getting sick or even dying from their exposure to toxic burn pits during their service. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the veterans' aid package would cost $207 billion over the next ten years.

Democrats slammed Cawthorn for his comments, suggesting he's a hypocrite for questioning why the United States isn't spending more on veterans rather than on helping Ukraine ward off the violent Russian invasion, while at the same time voting against funding for veterans.

"Imagine if you didn't vote against health care for veterans exposed to burn pits," former Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), who is running to try to win back the seat he lost in 2020, tweeted at Cawthorn.

The toxic burn pit bill, titled the Honoring our PACT Act, would provide additional funding for veteran health care and research for veterans who were exposed to toxic air from burn pits — which the military used in Iraq and Afghanistan to get rid of "plastics, rubber, chemical mixtures, and medical waste," according to the Military Times. The military no longer uses burn pits, which the Department of Defense now says as many as 3.5 million veterans were exposed to and could see health problems from, including deadly cancers.

The bill passed the House in March by a vote of 256 to 174. Just 34 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting for the bill, which is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.

During a hearing on the toxic burn pit bill in January, Cawthorn angered veterans and other first responders when he decided to clean his gun while veterans were testifying.

John Feal — a 9/11 first responder who has fought for funding for fellow 9/11 responders and others at the World Trade Center site who got sick or died from their exposure to the air following the terrorist attack — slammed Cawthorn for his actions.

"It was immature. He's a child. He lacks common sense. I think the congressman was overcompensating for something that he lacks and feeling inadequate among the heroes on that call,"  Feal told The Daily Beast at the time.

Cawthorn, for his part, is currently surrounded by controversy as he seeks to ward off a primary challenge as he runs for reelection in North Carolina's 11th District.

Republicans have lined up against him in the May 17 primary to try to oust him from the House.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.