Now that the U.S. House has cleared the replenishment bill for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart has called upon Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to ensure that the U.S. Senate sends the bill up to President Donald Trump for a signature before the Congressional recess.
Speaking with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, Stewart asked Mitch McConnell to keep his promise of bringing the bill to a vote by August 2, reports Deadline.
“Then everyone can exhale and go home,” Stewart said alongside 9/11 recovery worker John Feal. “John Feal has given 15 years of his life, half a foot and his kidney to this cause. It’s in sight, but it’s not done. I don’t think any of us feel comforted.”
The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund was created to aid the first responders who led the rescue effort on Ground Zero for several months after the Twin Towers collapsed on 9/11 — a tragedy that caused many permanent illnesses. On Friday, the House passed the replenishments for the funds by an overwhelming majority – 402 to 12. Fox News reports that it “comes as the $7 billion 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund is being depleted and has cut benefit payments by up to 70 percent.” The bill would ensure the fund can pay benefits for 70 years.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already agreed to bring the bill to a floor vote once it hits the Senate. In a statement on Friday, he praised the first responders for their intense heroism on that fateful day in 2001.
“The first responders who rushed into danger on September 11th, 2001 are the very definition of American heroes and patriots,” McConnell said. “The Senate has never forgotten the Victim Compensation Fund and we aren’t about to start now. Nothing about our shared goal to provide for these heroes is remotely partisan. We will consider this important legislation soon.”
Some have raised objections to the bill’s heavy price tag while wondering how the fund will be paid. Jon Stewart said the cost is “in a governmental sense, nothing.” He likened the complaints to someone winning a food eating contest and then turning down a Coke to keep their calorie count down.
“To watch a group of individuals who are running a trillion-dollar deficit, who are throwing tens of billions of dollars at various bailouts at their whim, talk about this bill with fiscal concern over a 10=year period … it’s like watching Joey Chestnut bang down 70 hots dogs on July 4th and then turn down a Coke for a Tab because he’s watching his figure. It’s nonsense. and it has to stop,” Stewart.
The former “Daily Show” host made headlines in early June when he gave an impassioned speech to Congress, admonishing them for playing political football with the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
“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 said. “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.”