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House Judiciary Passes 9/11 Bill the Day After Jon Stewart Gives Powerful Testimony
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12 Jun 2019 06:55 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Jon Stewart (Image source: Screenshot)

 

 

There's a reason why Jon Stewart had a successful television career for years. He is a powerful orator. He took that to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Tuesday to speak about a 9/11 bill. One day later, the House Judiciary passed the bill. 

In 2010 Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Heath and Compensation Act, despite Republicans complaining about the $7 billion cost.

 

It was reauthorized in 2015 for 90 years, yet the Victim Compensation Fund part of the bill was only funded for five years. It's goal is to provide financial support for the thousands who are suffering from major medical issues after the 2001 attacks on the twin towers.  

Some members of the House Judiciary committee had introduced the Never Forget the Heroes Act of 2019 to reauthorize the Victim Compensation Fund. Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) introduced it with the support of Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

 

Stewart has supported this cause for quite some time, spending an entire episode of "The Daily Show," when he was still hosting it, on the debate over the Zadroga Act when it was first introduced. 

He's progressed to being one of the biggest advocates for 9/11 first responders, trying to get them the health coverage they deserve.

 

At times during Tuesday's testimony, Stewart broke down in tears. "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," he reprimanded when looking at the small number of committee members who'd assembled for the hearing. He called it an "embarrassment to this country" and a "stain on this institution."

 

"You should be ashamed of yourselves for not being there," he said. "Accountability appears to not be something that occurs in this chamber."  

Stewart spoke of his concern that the proposed Never Forget Act would just be punted like a "political football" and get added to massive budget bills so that it would never see the light of day.

 

"Why this bill is not unanimous consent is beyond my comprehension," he reprimanded. "More of these men and women are going to get sick, and they're going to die, and I'm awfully tired of hearing this is a 'New York issue.' Al-Qaeda didn't shout 'death to Tribeca.' They attacked America." 

On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill unanimously. The bill will now move to the floor for a full vote in the House, with it expected to pass. It's unknown whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow the bill on the Senate floor, though Schumer said he was "imploring, pleading, even begging" him to.

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