Jon Stewart rips lawmakers for not showing up to 9/11 responders hearing

Erika Holt
June 12, 2019

Jon Stewart testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday while accompanied by dozens of 9/11 first responders, all in an attempt to secure funding for emergency workers and survivors who have been diagnosed with cancer and respiratory disease caused by Ground Zero toxins.

Pointing to rows of empty seats at a House Judiciary Committee hearing room, an angry Stewart said "sick and dying" first responders and their families came to Washington for the hearing, only to face a almost deserted dais.

Stewart, the former host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, lambasted lawmakers for not showing up to the hearing, calling it "a stain on this institution".

A Congressional Judiciary subcommittee heard testimony today from 9/11 first responders today who have been largely ignored by the USA government for almost two decades. "Well, I'm here to make sure that you don't".

More than 40,000 people have applied to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Penn., after the attacks.

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Local, state and federal officials have rallied around the Never Forget the Heroes act, which would provide funding for the victim fund through fiscal year 2090. "Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.shameful", said Stewart at the outset of his remarks. More than $5 billion USA in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.4 billion USA fund, with about 21,000 claims pending.

In recent years, more and more 9/11 first responders have been diagnosed with illnesses that have been linked to their participation in rescue and recovery efforts following the September 11 attacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You all said you would never forget. "I should not be here with you, but you made me come". And it would be one thing if their callous indifference and rank hypocrisy were benign, but it's not.

"Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time", he said later on. The extension was meant to last until December 2020, but the fund announced in a February statement that claims were increasing and money was running out much more quickly than anticipated. The bill was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in October 2018, but has since languished in the House. "We won't allow it to happen again", said Stewart. Why this bill isn't unanimous consent and a stand-alone issue is beyond my comprehension.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., tried to defend his colleagues. "All these empty chairs that's because it's for the full committee, not because it's disrespect or lack of attention to you".

Stewart was in the same position four years ago, but the money in the fund has dried up as the number of cancer cases continues to grow.

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