Jon Stewart, comedian and former host of “The Daily Show,” lit into Congress on Tuesday regarding the government’s horrific treatment of 9/11 first responders. He, also, pointed out that many members of Congress skipped out on the hearing, which discussed the protection of benefits for the unspoken heroes of that tragic day.
“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,” Stewart expressed. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.”
Watch Jon Stewart's speech slamming Congress for its inaction supporting 9/11 victims and first responders.
— CNN (@CNN) June 11, 2019
Stewart has been a longtime advocate for 9/11 first responders and their families. The bill in question is to ensure a fund can continue to pay their medical and living benefits for the next 70 years. Many of the people have died and are dying, ranging from deadly respiratory ailments to neurological issues brought on by the Twin Towers’ destruction.
Bipartisan lawmakers agreed that the bill funding should continue even though lawmaker attendance was sparse. Louisiana Republican Rep. Mike Johnson assured Jon Stewart that the bill would overwhelmingly pass. Stewart wasn’t convinced.
Over 40,000 people have applied to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. The fund covers illnesses that are related to the collapse of the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Penn., after the attacks. A little over $5 billion in benefits have been awarded from the fund. However, the fund has $7.4 billion, and roughly 21,000 claims are still pending.
The Justice Department released a report in February that stated the funds are being depleted rapidly and benefit payments have been cut by up to 70 percent.
“The plain fact is that we are expending the available funds more quickly than assumed, and there are many more claims than anticipated,” said Rupa Bhattacharyya, the fund’s special master. A total of 835 awards were reduced as of May 31,” she said.
Jon Stewart expressed his disdain at the explanation.
“Your indifference is costing these men and women their most valuable commodity: time,” he told the panel. “It’s one thing they’re running out of.”