Jon Stewart rips lawmakers for not showing up to 9/11 responders hearing

Lula Sharp
June 12, 2019

When Jon Stewart attended Tuesday's congressional hearing on a bill to ensure that the 9/11 victims' compensation fund can pay benefits for the next 70 years, he noticed something: rows of empty chairs where lawmakers should have been sitting. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak, and no one-shameful.

Jon Stewart testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

The firefighters, police officers and others came to the hearing despite illness and injuries, Stewart said, but some members of the committee chose not to show up.

He told the lawmakers that he was about to go into his 69th round of chemotherapy to treat his liver cancer. "And in front of me, a almost empty Congress", he said. Congress is soon expected to vote on the "Never Forget the Heroes Act", which would extend medical funding for survivors beyond 2020, when it was set to end. "Behind me, a filled room with 9/11 first responders".

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'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I am angry and you should be too", added Stewart, who received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his statement.

Shortly before the hearing, Stewart was given the turnout coat of FDNY officer Ray Pfeifer, who died from a 9/11-related cancer two years ago.

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STRONG WORDS from Jon Stewart as he slammed Congress on Tuesday for their lack of empathy and seeming indifference about the 9/11 first responders, many of whom are now suffering from ailing health.

Stewart slammed lawmakers for their "hypocrisy" by commending the heroes of September 11, but not taking care of them as they suffer, many from various cancers, and die. The $7.3 billion fund has paid about $5 billion to roughly 21,000 claimants. "Shameful. It's an embarrassment to the country and it's a stain on this institution". Thousands more first responders and people who were near in proximity to the World Trade Center have health complications thought to be caused by exposure to chemicals during the attack.

"Five seconds. That's how long it took - for FDNY, for NYPD, for Port Authority, for EMS - to respond to an urgent need from the public", Stewart said, referring to the quick response time of emergency workers on 9/11.

"Unfortunately, because of the amount of victims that have put in for that money, it's running out quicker than we ever thought would happen", he said.

Rose's office said he was present for the hearing and during Stewart's testimony.

"This fund isn't a ticket to paradise, it's to provide our families with care", said Alvarez. Never forget their bravery.

Stewart's speech has been praised by many on social media, including Jimmy Kimmel and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

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