Tuesday, 18 June, 2019

Jon Stewart rails against Congress during hearing on 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund

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Patty Aguilar | 11 June, 2019, 23:56

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.

More than 40,000 people have applied to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Penn., after the attacks.

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.

Pointing to rows of empty seats at a House Judiciary Committee hearing room, an angry Stewart said "sick and dying" first responders and their families came to Washington for the hearing, only to face a almost deserted dais.

Stewart said the small number of lawmakers who appeared at the hearing shows how little respect Congress has for those who responded to the attacks.

"There is not a person here, there is not an empty chair on that stage, that didn't tweet out "never forget the heroes of 9/11", he said, quoting how members of Congress annually mark that day.

"Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak - to no one", Stewart said of how few Congress members were present. "Shameful, it's an embarrassment to this country and it is a stain on this institution", Stewart said. "You should be ashamed of yourselves".

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The occasion? The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is running out of money "and has had to slash payouts to ailing responders and survivors by more than half", according to the Daily News.

Stewart spoke alongside Luis Alvarez, a retired detective and 9/11 responder from the New York Police Department who suffers from September 11-linked cancer. "Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time". "It's the one thing they're running out of". In 2015, the fund was allocated $7.375 billion to give out over the next five years.

"Eighteen years later, do yours!"

"Al-Qaida didn't shout 'death to Tribeca, '" he said.

Stewart was preceded by Luis Alvarez, a retired New York City detective, who will go through his 69th round of chemotherapy due to complications from being at Ground Zero.

"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. Alvarez told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties that, "You all said you would never forget".

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