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Jon Stewart slams Congress over 9/11 first responders’ health care

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Jon Stewart on Tuesday ripped into congressional lawmakers over their lack of support for 9/11 first responders and failure to ensure funds to pay for their healthcare don’t run out.

Stewart excoriated lawmakers for the low attendance of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, which he’s been lobbying to make permanent for years.

The comedian and former host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” called the committee’s poor attendance “an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution.” With 9/11 first responders sitting behind him, Stewart said Congress should be “ashamed” for its lack of accountability.

“I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to … behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress,” Stewart said.

Stewart is pushing for lawmakers to restore the compensation fund, which is quickly running out of money as claims tick up. In 2010 House Republicans voted down a Democratic bill to spend billions providing treatment to those impacted by the 9/11 attacks. The GOP members cited the costliness of the program and claimed it didn’t include sufficient measures to protect against waste and abuse.

The compensation fund was renewed for just five years in 2015.

“Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution,” Stewart added. “And you should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren’t here, but you won’t be. Because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”

Both Democratic and Republican New York lawmakers, including Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, held a rally last Sunday to build support for the legislation.

“That was the day that our definition of hero changed,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the rally. “We have to be there for our heroes no matter what. No matter the cost.”

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