House panel passes 9/11 victims fund bill a day after Jon Stewart’s testimony June 2019 – The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a bill which would permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Wednesday, the day after comedian Jon Stewart gave impassioned testimony in support of the bill in video that quickly went viral.
The bill will now go to the floor for a full vote in the House of Representatives, where it is likely to pass. It’s unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will take up the bill in the Senate, although Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Wednesday that he was “imploring, pleading, even begging” McConnell to bring the bill to the floor as soon as it passes in the House.
Stewart, the former host of “The Daily Show,” gave emotional testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Tuesday, at times broke down in tears and shouted at the lawmakers, calling them “shameful.” 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.
U.S. House approves funding for 9/11 responders, sends to Senate
July 12, 2019 – The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved legislation to permanently compensate first responders to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center who have been suffering from cancers and other illnesses as a result of working at the contaminated site.
The House voted 402-12 to pass the “Never Forget the Heroes Act” that had been championed by Jon Stewart, the popular former host of the late-night comedy program The Daily Show, and highlighted by recent gripping testimony by a dying 9/11 New York police detective.
Former New York Detective Luis Alvarez died last month shortly after his testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in which he urged a replenishment of the fund. At that same hearing, Stewart delivered impassioned testimony in which he chastised some lawmakers for not acting quickly enough to continue helping the police, firefighters and other workers immediately following the Sept. 11 attack. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Donald Trump, the victims’ fund would be authorized through 2092 and they could file claims until October 2089.
Senate Extends 9/11 Responders Fund Until 2090 July 23, 2019 – The Senate voted Tuesday to extend through 2090 a fund that makes payouts to first responders who developed diseases after working at the sites of the 9/11 attacks. The fund, called the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, has been running out of money as more and more emergency personnel and victims of the attacks fell ill after coming into contact with toxic chemicals at the sites of the terror attacks.
The bill the Senate passed 97-2 on Tuesday will extend the program through 2092 and give people until 2090 to file claims.
Comedian Jon Stewart has been a prominent champion of the legislation and was on Capitol Hill Tuesday as the bill neared passage. The former “Daily Show” host watched the vote from the chamber and stood and applauded when it was clear the measure had the votes to pass.
Watch John Stewart’s Daily Show 9/11 Monologue and Speeches for First Responders
2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the Sep 11 2001 attacks. Jon Stewart hosted The Daily Show on Comedy Central at the time of the attacks, and many look to watch his 9/11 monologue.
Stewart’s immediate response to 9/11 was an incredibly moving one. The show, filmed in New York City, returned to airwaves nine days after the deadliest terror attack ever on American soil. Stewart periodically got choked up and admitted he was terrified, but inspired viewers with his message of strength, resilience and spirit, as well as is empathy and compassion.
Established in 2001, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was designed to provide health benefits to first responders and their families who aided in the 9/11 recovery and rescue efforts. The program expired in 2004 but was reauthorized in 2010.
Stewart interviewed a panel of 9/11 first responders on The Daily Show in 2010 to encourage reinstatement of the program and to blast Congress for failing those who should be treated as heroes, and then-New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg largely credited Stewart for the program’s reinstatement. When the bill was at risk of expiring again in 2015, Stewart returned to The Daily Show to plead for its renewal.
In June 2019, Stewart tearfully pleaded with and slammed Congress members who skipped the hearing for not providing adequate care to 9/11 first responders.
Stewart will appear in a documentary about the fight for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Deadline reported in September 2020 that the film, No First Responders Left Behind, will also feature activist John Feal, who had his foot amputated following the World Trade Center attacks.
Image courtesy WBNS 10TV