Jon Stewart tearfully blasts Congress’s failure to support 9/11 first responders

9/11 Victims Fund Hearing

Jon Stewart left The Daily Show in 2015, at a time when we actually needed him, as all of the Trump bulls–t was about to take hold. I understood why he left though – he was very burned out and he had other things on his plate, from writing and directing, to animal rescue, and his commitment to 9/11 first responders. For years at the Daily Show, Jon used his platform to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of 9/11 first responders and America’s need to take care of the men and women who ran towards the burning World Trade Towers. Many of those first responders have significant health issues now, and 18 years after 9/11, federal funding of their medical care has largely dried up. That’s why Jon Stewart was on Capitol Hill yesterday, to speak to a subcommittee about reauthorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. The problem was that few members of the subcommittee – just a couple of Democrats – even showed up for the hearing. Jon was pissed off:

In his emotional testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Jon Stewart at times broke down in tears, shouting at the lawmakers and calling them “shameful.”

“I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is … 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 … shameful,” said Stewart at the outset of his remarks. A little over half of the 14-member subcommittee members were present, mostly Democrats.

Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010, over opposition from some Republicans who balked at its $7 billion price tag. The act was reauthorized in 2015 for 90 years. But a portion of the law — the Victim Compensation Fund — was only funded for five years, through the end of 2020. The fund aimed to provide necessary financial support for the thousands who suffered serious medical issues, including a spate of cancer diagnoses, after the 2001 attacks.

Several members of the New York congressional delegation, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, both Democrats, and GOP Rep. Peter King, have introduced the Never Forget the Heroes Act of 2019 to reauthorize the Victim Compensation Fund. It also has the support of New York’s two senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Stewart has long been a champion for the cause, first devoting an entire episode of “The Daily Show” to the political debate over the Zadroga Act back in 2010. He’s since become one of the most vocal advocates for 9/11 responders, repeatedly defending the right to health care coverage for those who responded and ran toward the falling towers.

Stewart was disgusted by the small number of members assembled for Tuesday’s hearing, calling the showing an “embarrassment to this country” and a “stain on this institution…You should be ashamed of yourselves for not being here. Accountability appears to not be something that occurs in this chamber.” Stewart expressed concern that such legislation like the Never Forget Act would just be punted like a “political football” and attached to riders in massive budget bills.

[From CBS News]

The politics of this is simple – the Democrats support the reauthorization and want the first responders to get the money and be taken care of. It’s the Republicans who don’t want to spend the money. It’s the Republicans who want to use the memory of 9/11 as a piece of political propaganda and then not actually do anything to support the heroes.

9/11 Victims Fund Hearing

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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37 Responses to “Jon Stewart tearfully blasts Congress’s failure to support 9/11 first responders”

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  1. Esmom says:

    “It’s the Republicans who want to use the memory of 9/11 as a piece of political propaganda and then not actually do anything to support the heroes.”

    Indeed. Same with their penchant for waving the flag while denying veterans proper resources or care and instead making a big deal about NFL players kneeling.

    Seeing Jon Stewart is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. He saw what was happening in Washington long before many of us and I don’t blame him for continuing to be angry and embittered.

    • BlueSky says:

      Add teachers to that list too. Politicians love to line the background of their rallies with teachers, veterans, seniors but these individuals get nothing in return.
      Some Teachers are living barely above the poverty line and don’t get me started on the substandard care that veterans get.
      I went back to school a few years ago to get my Masters and was so dismayed at the salary the instructors made at a local college I decided not to pursue teaching after I graduated.

      • Esmom says:

        Oh, yes, the demonization of teachers really seemed to ratchet up with the Tea Party and it’s sickening indeed. Betsy DeVos is the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the GOP’s regard for education (or lack thereof). Thank goodness for all the amazing educators still on the front lines. Some of the best people I know are teachers. But sadly the shortage will only get worse as education programs universities are struggling to attract applicants. It’s beyond heartbreaking.

      • Veronica S. says:

        It benefits tyranny to have an uneducated populace taught to do menial work rather than think. That’s why the attacks on schooling started with liberal arts programs (things they could argue weren’t utilitarian or necessary) because they teach subversive, creative thinking. Limit people only to the basics of knowledge with pragmatic focus, and you’ve got a populace that can slotted into the capitalist system without much complaint.

      • Mel M says:

        Yep, my conservative R state will increase funding for charter schools by almost 11% while giving public an increase of 2%. It’s pathetic. That’s why my sons school is constantly holding fundraisers and asking for donations, like on a weekly basis. We also rank the lowest in our region for teacher pay and haven’t given them a pay raise in a decade.

      • Tourmaline says:

        Right and part of the demonization of teachers is the demonization of unions.

        Funny how it’s fine with this bunch for police and fire to have unions, though.

    • Borgqueen says:

      Exactly what I came here to say. They want to tout suport our military and then dont support the veterans when they return with real problems.

      Another point also is both Trump and Guiliani (then mayor of NY on 9/11) and the one who allowed all those first responders to work at the World Trade without any real protection. Guiliani should have appeared at that hearing as well and argue for permanent funding.

  2. Sean says:

    I’d like to see the names of those who didn’t attend posted somewhere. I checked several news sites and only a few Congresspeople were mentioned.

  3. Ariel says:

    I’ve read several articles on this hearing and not one yet has named the committee members who refused to attend.
    Voters in those states should know how their representatives behave and vote.

    • Lindsnowork says:

      It’s not that hard to figure out, there are 14 members on the judiciary committee, 5 attended.
      The members roster is widely available

    • Badrockandroll says:

      Members that did not attend: Louie Gohmert, TX, Jim Jordan, OH, Guy Reschenthaler, PA, Kelly Armstrong, ND, Mike Johnson, Louisana & Ben Cline, Virginia. All Republicans. Back when the last version of this bill was signed (2015, with a five year life to expire in 2020), only Republicans squawked at how it was too much money; some even said that it was a New York State/City problem, not a federal issue. Because the terrorists were screaming “Death to the Bronx” rather than “Death to America”.

    • holly hobby says:

      I believe the Judiciary committee included DUI Matt Gaetz, Dentist Louie Gormort and that pervert Gym Jordan – the very same idiots that tried to take down John Dean at another hearing and failed miserably. People are you surprised? Also Florida Ohio and wherever that worm Louie spawned from, what’s wrong with you? Why are you voting these idiots into office?

  4. grabbyhands says:

    Three guesses about which members didn’t bother to show up, and the first two don’t count.

    Unsurprisingly, the right is defending the no shows -one woman in an FB post commented that they have jobs and can’t be expected to do EVERYTHING. Except, this WAS part of their job and the party who is constantly touting how f*cking AMERICA PROUD they are should have had all their members front and center at this hearing and should be falling all over themselves to fund it.
    Of course, as we all know they’re pathetic hypocrites and the flag waving is just about playing to the base. Doubly sad is that base probably includes people who would benefit from this being re-funded, but don’t seem to be making the connection that the politicians they support have zero interest in whether they live or die.

    • Eliza says:

      Sadly, they probably were like “well it’s a blue state problem, we don’t need to show up, we’ll just blame it on the libs later”

  5. SamC says:

    Republicans also more frequently will hold funding for these sorts of things hostage, rolling them into larger funding bills for things they want passed. Dems do it too, but it’s more often a Republican tool.

    My only hope (yeah, I know, very Pollyanna of me) is those who were absent were due to conflicting committee meetings. There are frequently multiple meetings running concurrently.

  6. Jerusha says:

    Eighteen years and still fighting this issue-unfreakingbelievable. And is anyone surprised that those who did show up were Democrats? I’m not. For Rs patriotism is just for show, an act they put on for the low info masses who follow them. I know he’d never run, but Jon Stewart is exactly the type person who should be running this country.

  7. Jess says:

    Good for Jon. I loved his show and appreciate him doing this but he now leaves a little bit of a bitter taste in my mouth as one of the many white guys who told us to give Trump a chance after he was elected. I also think of how he treated Wyatt on his show when the issue of using a “black” voice came up. Yet another example of a “liberal white guy” who still sucked when it came to inclusivity and representation (like Damon).

  8. Lindsnowork says:

    I’m in total agreement that the GOP is a corrupt, shell of a party that needs to be voted out from dog catcher to president in 2020, BUT your reporting on this is inaccurate.
    There were 5 members of judiciary there, 4 Democrats and 1 republican (Rep Johnson from LA)

  9. Veronica S. says:

    Stewart has misstepped for me a few times in recent years with his political commentary, but I’ve always respected his adamant defense of the first responders for 9/11. This has always been a very passionate issue for him, and he shows up consistently to show support and argue for these people’s lives. I can’t fault him for his anger when so many Americans when to bury 9/11 under the veil of the past like it wasn’t the pivot point for a massive amount of sociocultural change in America.

  10. Lesanne says:

    Love and hugs to you. God bless your compassion and empathy, it makes life hard but it makes the world a better place.

  11. Chrissyms says:

    All politicians are both sides are slimy in my opinion. The way they flip flop on issues and try to appease the people who are donating the money. It’s gross. It always has been gross and it is not to quote the great orange one…..a SWAMP. I kept reading that people wanted Jon Stewart to run for office yesterday….NO…he is too good of a man to comprimise his values in anyway. He would never. His palpable disgust was visible. He knows how this all works. Kudos to him for shining light on this issue. Healthcare in America in appaling on a good day…but to do this to your on heros or the way the Veterans or treated…its just a whole different low.

  12. notasugarhere says:

    “They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later, do yours!”

  13. Scal says:

    The fact that both he & first responders had to go down to washington and argue for this components of this bill in 2003, 2010, 2015, AND 2019 should infuriate everyone. In 2015 McConnell tacked it onto a funding bill because he wanted oil concessions for his state, and then when he didn’t get them pulled the funding. It took a public shaming for him to put it on a omnibus bill but even then only to get X and Y.

    It easily has the votes in the House, the republican controlled senate is already talking about ‘needing to review’ it before they will commit to anything. McConnell basically said as much again yesterday. But you know they’ll all tweet about the troops and 9/11 first chance they get.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      It is f*cking ABSURD that the GOP has no problem with Trump gifting farmers $30 BILLION to compensate solely for his crappy trade policies, but they will “need to review” funds for victims of terror attacks. They also delayed funds for natural disaster victims because of their “worries about impacts on the deficit”. WHERE ARE YOUR FISCAL CONCERNS WHEN TRUMP IS SPENDING BILLIONS TO IMPRISON REFUGEES?

  14. Bella Bella says:

    I watched this yesterday and was relieved to see someone finally speaking truth to power, as they say. He was blunt, articulate and passionate. Bravo, Jon Stewart.

    How Republicans can dismiss the health of the first responders at 9/11 as “a NY problem” is mind boggling.

  15. Skeptical says:

    That word authenticity is bounced around a lot lately to justify some raw and offensive rants. THIS is the real thing though. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I don’t think I will forget it, either. His sincerity combined with the strength of his points was so incredibly powerful.

  16. lolalola3 says:

    Jon has been such a great source of support for this cause. Thank god he jumped way back when or this Fund would have run out and the entire cause swept under the rug. Seriously, there are SO many things congress should be ashamed of these days but this one is a biggie. As someone who lived in NYC during 9/11, I saw the people that rushed in with no thoughts for themselves when that smell permeated NYC and the dust was everywhere–and this included just regular people volunteers as well as official first responders–were such heroes. No thought for themselves just running in to see if they could help. Thank you to Jon for keeping the memory of those actions fresh in our minds.

  17. kerwood says:

    I know it sounds callous but part of me is glad that this happened. Not that these poor men and women are suffering but that the country (and the world) saw how the Republicans treat their own.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming majority of NYPD (at least the White ones) are firmly in the Republican/MAGA camp. I’ve lived in New York and dealt with the NYPD. One (White) police officer pulled a gun on me AFTER I called the police to report a prowler. If a Black cop hadn’t been there, I probably would have been a story on the six o’clock news about how I ‘resisted arrest’. In my nightgown and bunny slippers.

    Bush and his party held these men and women up as heroes. They used them to pump up the xenophobia that reached frightening levels after 9/11. Republicans also used them to justify their war in Iraq. Now they’re leaving them to die.

    I doubt it will make any difference with the deplorables. But I hope the people who just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hilary Clinton think about what four more years of Trump and Republican rule will mean to ALL Americans. Not just the poor and minorities.

  18. hogtowngooner says:

    This was amazing. It’s absurd that these absent members are the same ones who, every September 11th, fall all over themselves saying “never forget,” then on September 12th go back ignoring the people who were on the ground, sifting through toxic rubble, trying to rescue people.

    The GOP worship symbols – fetuses, the military, the flag – but never seem to have a moment or a dime to spare for the actual people they represent.

  19. SJR says:

    Thank you Jon Stewart. You did a good thing. Use your celebrity to speak up, show these politicians how a decent person sees the right thing to do.
    Damn every fat cat Politician who is f’ing around on this issue!
    Unemployed come re-election time I say.

  20. Clementine says:

    Jersey Guy <3 love him.

  21. Jana says:

    The only lives Republicans care about are those of the unborn…once that child is here, it is every man for himself, and, you better not need a damn thing. They don’t want to pay one penny towards your healthcare, education or retirement. So tragic we can’t all be born into money and privilege.