The former host of “The Daily Show” delivered heated comments to a House Judiciary subcommittee on the need to reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which is facing a significant funding lapse. The Never Forget the Heroes Act of 2019 would ensure the fund can deliver benefits to 9/11 responders for the next 70 years.
“I’m sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I’m angry and you should be too,” Stewart said.
At the outset of his remarks, Stewart called out lawmakers who failed to attend the hearing.
“I can’t help 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,” Stewart said. “Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.”
Of the subcommittee’s 14 members, just over half showed up to the hearing, according to CBS News.
“There is not a person here, there is not an empty chair on that stage that did not tweet out, ‘Never forget the heroes of 9/11.’ ... Well here they are,” Stewart said, gesturing to the first responders and their families who traveled to Washington to be present at the hearing.
“And where are they?” he continued, referring to the committee’s absent members. “It would be one thing if their callous indifference and rank hypocrisy were benign, but it’s not. Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time. It’s the one thing they’re running out of.”
Stewart has long been an advocate for 9/11 responders and spoke to Congress in February about the VCF after the Justice Department announced that a lack of funding for the measure could lead to a 50% to 70% reduction in compensation for first responders who were made sick by toxins they were exposed to during 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts.
In an op-ed for the New York Daily News earlier this year, Stewart wrote that roughly 45,000 people are suffering from at least one 9/11-related chronic health condition and more than 10,000 have been certified with a 9/11-related cancer.