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Jon Stewart berates House Judiciary Committee over treatment of 9/11 first responders

11 June 2019

Drawing attention once more to the lack of urgency among lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Stewart said: "It would be one thing if their callous indifference and rank hypocrisy were benign, but it's not".

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which Stewart and others have battled to protect for years, is set to run out of money in December 2020.

However, few committee members opted to show up, and Stewart - a staunch advocate for the Victim Compensation Fund - was left to give a passionate speech to the "empty" dais.

The former "Daily Show" host has for years championed the cause of the survivors of the September 11 terror attacks, calling attention to the diseases contracted by first responders and others who breathed in the smoke from the Twin Towers. Shameful. It's an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution.

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.

Pfeifer was a 9/11 firefighter who died in 2017 of a 9/11-related cancer.

Comedian Jon Stewart tells USA lawmakers they should be ashamed of their treatment of 9/11 responders. "But you won't be, because accountability doesn't appear to be something that occurs in this chamber".

The special master who oversees the fund, Rupa Bhattacharyya, announced in February that future payouts would be cut by as much as 70 percent to offset surging claims from those who are sick or dying.

Stewart said the small number of lawmakers who appeared at the hearing shows how little respect Congress has for those who responded to the attacks.

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. The $7.3 billion fund has paid about $5 billion to roughly 21,000 claimants. Al-Qaeda didn't shout death to Tribeca. "I'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I am angry, and you should be too".

Stewart also told lawmakers that he was "sick and tired" of hearing the September 11 terrorist attack described as a "New York issue". "They did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity, humility".

"Eighteen years later, do yours!"

The Louisiana Republican then predicted the bill would sail through the committee and pass nearly-unanimously through the House.

"Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time", Stewart said at one point.

Jon Stewart berates House Judiciary Committee over treatment of 9/11 first responders