- Jon Stewart on Tuesday ripped into congressional lawmakers over their past refusal to renew the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
- “Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution,” Stewart said to a half-empty congressional committee.
- New York Democrats, including House Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, held a rally on Sunday to build support for the legislation.
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Jon Stewart on Tuesday ripped into congressional lawmakers over their lack of support for 9/11 first responders and failure to ensure that funds to pay for their healthcare don’t run out.
Stewart excoriated lawmakers for their low attendance at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, which he’s been lobbying to make permanent for years.
The comedian and former host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” called the committee’s poor attendance “an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution.” With 9/11 first responders sitting behind him, Stewart said Congress should be “ashamed” for its lack of accountability.
“I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting healthcare and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to … behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress,” Stewart said, becoming emotional at times.
Stewart is pushing for lawmakers to restore the compensation fund, which is quickly running out of money as claims tick up. In 2010, House Republicans voted down a Democratic bill to spend billions of dollars on providing treatment to those with illnesses caused by the 9/11 attacks. The GOP members cited the costliness of the program and said it didn’t include sufficient measures to protect against waste and abuse.
The compensation fund was renewed for just five years in 2015. Thousands of 9/11 first responders have health issues, including dozens of different forms of cancer, linked to the toxic chemicals they were exposed to at Ground Zero.
“Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution,” Stewart added. “And you should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren’t here, but you won’t be. Because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”
The first responders gave Stewart a standing ovation following his testimony.
Watch Jon Stewart's speech slamming Congress for its inaction supporting 9/11 victims and first responders.
— CNN (@CNN) June 11, 2019
YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS VIDEO. An emotional Jon Stewart is given the turnout coat of @FDNY legend Ray Pfeifer, who died from 9/11 related cancer. Ret #FDNY Kenny Specht makes the presentation outside a Congressional hearing room. @wcbs880 #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/WD6kW5Lvje
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) June 11, 2019
Both Democratic and Republican New York lawmakers, including House Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, held a rally on Sunday to build support for the legislation.
“That was the day that our definition of hero changed,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the rally. “We have to be there for our heroes no matter what. No matter the cost.”
On Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about Stewart’s testimony, offering to meet with first responders at the hearing.
In April, Ocasio-Cortez slammed Republican congressman Dan Crenshaw, a veteran himself, for failing to sign on to the 9/11 compensation fund legislation.
What a damn shame.
We must pass the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund. It’s not just about procedure. It’s about showing up for the heroes who were there for us.
I don’t sit on this committee, but if any of the first responders there today would like to meet with me, let me know. https://t.co/PWEfZ5CXxH
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 11, 2019
Watch the full hearing below: