Jon Stewart berates House Judiciary Committee over treatment of 9/11 first responders

Tears, anger at congressional hearing seeking extension of victim fund for 9/11 responders

"My life isn't worth more than the next responder to get cancer". Shameful. It's an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution.

"This fund isn't a ticket to paradise, it's to provide our families with care", said Alvarez. "Never forget their bravery, never forget what they did, what they gave to this country".

Former "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart speaks as U.S. Sen.

Several members of the NY 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.

Just as Americans "stood together as a nation in the days following September 11, 2001, and just as we stood together in 2010 and 2015 to authorize and fund these vital programs, we must now join forces one more time to ensure that the heroes of 9/11 are not abandoned when they need us most", Nadler said.

Pointing to rows of uniformed firefighters and police officers behind him, he said the hearing "should be flipped", so that first responders were on the dais, with members of Congress "down here" in witness chairs answering their questions.

"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.

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"Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time", Stewart said at one point. The $7.3 billion fund has paid about $5 billion to roughly 21,000 claimants.

The fund is scheduled to stop taking claims in December 2020.

In February, the fund's administrator, Rupa Bhattacharyya, announced there was "insufficient funding" to "pay all current and projected claims at the same levels as under current policies and procedures" and said future claims would only be paid a fraction of their prior value. The bill was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in October 2018, but has since languished in the House.

Stewart testified before the House judiciary committee on Tuesday alongside first responders and victims, but only a handful of lawmakers appeared at the hearing, prompting a visibly angry Stewart to condemn their treatment of survivors.

Stewart also told lawmakers that he was "sick and tired" of hearing the September 11 terrorist attack described as a "New York issue".

"Why this bill is not unanimous consent is beyond my comprehension", Stewart admonished. "It's not because of disrespect or lack of attention to you", he continued.

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