The former Daily Show host’s visit to Capitol Hill comes as lawmakers try to lock down a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
Jon Stewart lobbied with first responders on Wednesday to extend health care benefits for those affected by Ground Zero. The 9/11 Health and Compensation programs are set to expire at the end of September.
Last week, the FDNY added 21 more names to a memorial wall of people who died from 9/11-related illnesses.
It’s an “embarrassment” that firefighters, police officers and others who responded to Ground Zero in New York after the terrorist attacks in 2001 must lobby Congress to renew their health coverage, comedian Jon Stewart said Wednesday.
“By the way, a lot of these guys are sick”, Stewart said.
Stewart was instrumental in 2010 in raising awareness about the issue on “The Daily Show” after Senate Republicans blocked funding of the measure. Additionally, almost 17 percent of emergency medical workers on the front lines that day show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a medical study showed.
“I refuse to despair as long as I see the heart and courage and dedication of the men and women standing behind me”. “… I’m embarrassed that you, after serving so selflessly and with heroism, have to come down here to convince people to do what’s right”. House Republicans are supportive of the program but have opposed its permanent extension because they say they want the chance to periodically review it and make sure it is operating soundly. “I am very optimistic that we can bring the entire Senate together to support this bill”. “You’re strong men and women but these are conditions you may have never faced before”.
A reporter asked Stewart why the fund needs to be renewed immediately, since it won’t expire for another month and victims can still “pull from it” for another year. But five years is a nonstarter.
More than 150 bipartisan lawmakers have signed onto a permanent renewal of the bill that will begin phasing out in October, but no vote is on the calendar to take it up.
Clearly put on the spot by the presence of dozens of sickened 9/11 heroes and a celebrity advocate on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated his intention: to avert expiration of the law providing them with health-care help and other desperately needed assistance.