Thursday, 14 November, 2019

An angry Jon Stewart demands Congress compensate 9/11 responders

Tears, anger at congressional hearing seeking extension of victim fund for 9/11 responders Jon Stewart Blasts Lawmakers In Hearing For Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund
Deanna Wagner | 12 June, 2019, 01:30

During his testimony on Tuesday, Stewart said it was embarrassing that first responders need to come to Washington D.C. every year for almost two decades to fight for health care assistance.

In an emotional testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Stewart at times choked up, shouting at lawmakers and calling them "shameful".

"More of these men and woman are going to get sick and they're going to die, and I'm awfully exhausted of hearing this is a 'New York issue.' Al-Qaeda didn't shout 'death to Tribeca.' They attacked America", Stewart remarked.

Stewart's first show back after the attacks of September 11 was an incredibly powerful piece of television.

Stewart also voiced anger over the need to repeatedly reauthorize funding for the September 11 first responders. He slammed the congressmen for tweeting out messages like "Never Forget the Heroes of 9/11", but couldn't be bothered to hear their stories today. His voice shaking, he continued, "Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one".

Dr. Jacqueline Moline, Chair of Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention at Hofstra's School of Medicine testified before the panel that now, over 11,000 types of cancer have been reported since the attacks on 9/11, ranging from Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, to debilitating lung cancers. In 2015, the fund was allocated $7.375 billion to give out over the next five years. "Well I'm here to make sure that you don't".

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He lashed out at lawmakers for what he called their "callous indifference" and "rank hypocrisy", campaigning on challenges encountered by first responders and applauding their heroism but refusing to take action in Congress to support them.

"Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity - time!" he said. "It's the one thing they're running out of". However, the fund has faced financial problems - specifically insufficient funds to cover claims - and it is set to expire in December 2020.

With more than 19,000 additional unpaid claims, the fund is running out of money, and Bhattacharyya, the special master, announced that pending claims, including those received before February 1, will be paid at 50 percent of their prior value. "I cried through most of this, a lot of us did".

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

But Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) defended the actions of his colleagues, saying that half the seats were empty because Stewart and the survivors were only testifying before a subcommittee.

"All these empty chairs, that's because it's for the full committee. That's not true. And we will respond, and we will see that it's funded".