WASHINGTON – Comic Jon Stewart scolded Congress Tuesday for failing to make sure that a victims’ compensation fund arrange after the 9/11 assaults by no means runs out of cash.
Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders, angrily known as out lawmakers for failing to attend a listening to on a invoice to make sure the fund will pay advantages for the following 70 years. Pointing to rows of empty seats at a Home Judiciary Committee listening to room, Stewart stated “sick and dying” first responders and their households got here to Washington for the listening to, solely to face a virtually abandoned dais.
The sparse attendance by lawmakers was “a humiliation to the nation and a stain on this establishment,” Stewart stated, including that the “disrespect” proven to first responders now affected by respiratory illnesses and different sicknesses “is completely unacceptable.”
Lawmakers from each events stated they help the invoice and had been monitoring the listening to amid different congressional enterprise.
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., predicted the invoice will cross with overwhelming help and stated lawmakers meant no disrespect as they moved out and in of the subcommittee listening to, a standard prevalence on Capitol Hill.
Stewart was unconvinced.
Pointing to rows of uniformed firefighters and cops behind him, he stated the listening to “must be flipped,” in order that first responders had been on the dais, with members of Congress “down right here” in witness chairs answering their questions.
At the beginning, Stewart stated, households need to know, “Why that is so rattling arduous and takes so rattling lengthy?”
The collapse of the World Commerce Heart in September 2001 despatched a cloud of thick mud billowing over Decrease Manhattan. Fires burned for weeks. 1000’s of building employees, cops, firefighters and others hung out working within the soot, typically with out correct respiratory safety.
Within the years since, many have seen their well being decline, some with respiratory or digestive-system illnesses that appeared nearly instantly, others with sicknesses that developed as they aged, together with most cancers.
Greater than 40,000 folks have utilized to the September 11th Sufferer Compensation Fund, which covers sicknesses probably associated to being on the World Commerce Heart website, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the assaults. Greater than $5 billion in advantages have been awarded out of the $7.four billion fund, with about 21,000 claims pending.
Stewart and different audio system lamented the truth that practically 18 years after the assaults, first responders and their households nonetheless don’t have any assurance the fund won’t run out of cash. The Justice Division stated in February that the fund is being depleted and that profit funds are being reduce by as much as 70 p.c.
“The plain reality is that we’re expending the accessible funds extra rapidly than assumed, and there are various extra claims than anticipated,” stated Rupa Bhattacharyya, the fund’s particular grasp. A complete of 835 awards have been lowered as of Could 31, she stated.
Stewart known as that shameful.
“Your indifference is costing these women and men their Most worthy commodity: time,” he informed lawmakers. “It is one factor they’re operating out of.”
Firefighters, police and different first responders “did their jobs with braveness, grace, tenacity and humility,” Stewart added. “Eighteen years later, do yours.”
Home Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat whose district contains the World Commerce Heart website, stated a 70% reduce — or any reduce — in compensation to victims of 9/11 “is just insupportable, and Congress should not permit it.”
Simply as Individuals “stood collectively as a nation within the days following September 11, 2001, and simply as we stood collectively in 2010 and 2015 to authorize and fund these very important packages, we should now be part of forces yet one more time to make sure that the heroes of 9/11 are usually not deserted after they want us most,” Nadler stated.