Jon Stewart Slams Congress for 9/11 First Responder Fund Inaction
A visibly upset Jon Stewart testified before a House Judiciary Committee today, berating the committee for its continued delay in helping 9/11 first responders.
Stewart has been a big supporter of the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which assists people injured during 9/11 or who became ill due to the conditions at Ground Zero. Many first responders have developed cancer or other debilitating ailments directly caused by the fumes and dust breathed in during 9/11. After the fund was shut down, it was reactivated in 2015, but only for a limited time, telling responders they had until the end of 2020 to submit claims, but recently announcing that pay outs would be limited due to funding.
Stewart opened his speech pointing out that the audience was full of first responders, but the committee seats were only half-full,
As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care 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.
According to the Washington Post, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the chairman of the subcommittee, shot down Stewart's opinion of the lack of committee attendees,
Some members are in their offices visiting with constituents, or they may be watching on television, because this is broadcast. ... Our attendance was pretty good. All these empty chairs, that’s because it’s for the full committee. It’s not because of disrespect or lack of attention to you.
Stewart pointed out that the average response time for FDNY, NYPD, and other first responders on 9/11 was 5 seconds, yet Congress has taken 18 years and still hasn't helped.
In 2015, Stewart returned to 'The Daily Show' to speak about the bill and the lack of response from Senators who had tweeted out saying they would never forget the first responders, but wouldn't pass a bill helping them.