By Marisa Tati | Washington Put up
Comic Jon Stewart took members of Congress to job on Tuesday, blasting a part of the Home Judiciary Committee for its low attendance at a listening to about reauthorizing funding for individuals with illnesses linked to the 9/11 crash websites.
Congress created the Sept. 11th Sufferer Compensation Fund after the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, 2001, to assist anybody injured or sickened within the assaults or within the response course of.
“As I sit right here right now, I can’t assist however suppose what an unbelievable metaphor this room is for the whole course of that getting well being care and advantages for 9/11 first responders has come to,” Stewart advised a subcommittee of the Home Judiciary Committee. “Behind me, a stuffed room of 9/11 first responders, and in entrance of me, a virtually empty Congress.”
The firefighters, cops and others got here to the listening to regardless of sickness and accidents, Stewart mentioned, however some members of the subcommittee selected to not present up. The primary responders attended the listening to to advocate for the monetary compensation they’re due, Stewart mentioned.
“I’m sorry if I sound offended and undiplomatic,” mentioned Stewart, the previous host of “The Day by day Present” on Comedy Central. “However I’m offended and try to be, too.”
He berated the lawmakers for what he known as their “callous indifference” and “rank hypocrisy,” campaigning on first responders’ points and commending their heroism, but not performing in Congress to help them.
“There may be not an individual right here – there may be not an empty chair on that stage that didn’t tweet out, ‘always remember the heroes of 9/11; always remember their bravery; always remember what they did, what they gave to this nation,’” Stewart mentioned, then motioned to the group of first responders behind him. “Effectively, right here they’re.”
The fund was most lately reactivated in 2015 as a part of the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Well being and Compensation Act, which offers well being care and monetary help to first responders, volunteers and survivors. The Sufferer Compensation Fund is permitting individuals to submit claims till Dec. 18, 2020, however the fund’s management mentioned in February it could cut back awards due to “funding insufficiency.”
Stewart has been advocating for the Sufferer Compensation Fund since a minimum of 2010, when he devoted 9 minutes of “The Day by day Present” to criticizing members of Congress who opposed the Zadroga Act. White Home press secretary Robert Gibbs advised reporters on the time that Stewart’s activism could have prompted “a breakthrough” on the difficulty.
Stewart didn’t converse from a written assertion, like many who seem in entrance of committees are inclined to do. At instances, the previous late-night host raised his voice. He got here near crying. He begged the committee to take their points significantly.
“They responded in 5 seconds – they did their jobs. With braveness, grace, tenacity, humility,” Stewart mentioned, tearing up and dropping his pen onto the desk. “… Eighteen years later, do yours.”
The primary responders behind him rose to their toes, erupting into sustained applause as some lawmakers clapped slowly from their seats.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., the chairman of the subcommittee, pushed again towards Stewart’s criticisms to defend Congress as “the bulwark of democracy” and added that different committee conferences happen on the identical time.
“Some members are of their places of work visiting with constituents, or they might be watching on tv, as a result of that is broadcast. … Our attendance was fairly good,” Cohen mentioned. “All these empty chairs, that’s as a result of it’s for the complete committee. It’s not due to disrespect or lack of consideration to you.”
Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Man Reschenthaler, R-Penn., have been the one two subcommittee members who didn’t attend, mentioned Daniel Schwarz, a spokesman for subcommittee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. Different members cycled out and in of the listening to, Schwarz mentioned.
Rating member Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., later sought to guarantee Stewart his message resonated with many, no matter who really attended the listening to. He additional predicted the measure to increase the fund would cross with little opposition.
“I’ve been in politics some time. I can’t recall being so moved by testimony as I used to be right now,” Johnson mentioned. “I cried via most of this, a number of us did. . . . If it’s any consolation to you all, we all know this invoice goes to cross with an amazing landslide majority of the Home, perhaps unanimous.”
As The Washington Put up’s Meagan Flynn beforehand reported:
The 9/11 terrorist assaults have at all times been private for Stewart, who mentioned in 2001 that he may see the World Commerce Middle from his house in Decrease Manhattan. 9 days after the assaults killed almost 3,000 individuals, Stewart appeared behind his wood desk on “The Day by day Present,” stumbling at first to shirk the awkwardness that comes naturally with a late-night comedy present within the wake of the nation’s most unfathomable tragedy. “Tonight’s present is clearly not an everyday present,” he mentioned.
Then got here an unforgettable monologue.
“Any idiot can blow one thing up. Any idiot can destroy. However to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen and other people from everywhere in the nation, actually, with buckets rebuilding … that’s … that’s extraordinary. And that’s why we’ve already gained,” he mentioned, his voice cracking. “It’s mild. It’s democracy. We’ve already gained. They will’t shut that down.”