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

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Comedian Jon Stewart took members of Congress to task on Tuesday (June 11), blasting the House Judiciary Committee for its low attendance at a hearing to discuss reauthorising the Sept 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

"As I sit here, I can't help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting healthcare and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to", Stewart said.

The retired Daily Show host delivered the roasting on Tuesday in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which met to discuss a bill that would reauthorize compensation for 9/11 victims and first responders. He is set to begin his 69th round of chemotherapy on Wednesday to treat the cancer he was diagnosed with after the World Trade Center fell. He slammed the congressmen for tweeting out messages like "Never Forget the Heroes of 9/11", but couldn't be bothered to hear their stories today.

Jon Stewart accused Congress of "ignoring" first responders whose health has been impacted by the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks. "Well, I'm here to make sure that you don't", Alvarez said to a room of loud applause.

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.

Former 9/11 first responders Gerard Fitzgerald and Jake Lemonda on how comedian Jon Stewart blasted lawmakers for skipping a 9/11 victims fund hearing.

"Where are they? It would be one thing if their callous indifference and rank hypocrisy was benign, but it's not", Stewart said. The fund paid out $7 billion in damages when it originally operated from 2001 to 2003, was reopened in 2011 and extended for another five years in 2015.

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Stewart, the former host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, lambasted lawmakers for not showing up to the hearing, calling it "a stain on this institution".

"They responded in five seconds, they did their jobs". On Tuesday, he told the committee, "It is my goal and my legacy to see that you do the right thing for all 9/11 responders".

Fitzgerald said that it's time for legislators to show that they truly will "never forget" the survivors of the attacks, because many first responders and survivors are facing futures that were shaped by the tragedy.

The special master who oversees the fund, Rupa Bhattacharyya, announced in February that future payouts would be cut by as much as 70 percent to offset surging claims from those who are sick or dying.

Some advocates say that while extending the program has taken some time, there are still reasons to be optimistic about the bill. Stewart said that families are asking, "Why is this so damn hard and takes so damn long?" "With courage, grace, tenacity, humility", Stewart said, tearing up and dropping his pen onto the desk. "Eighteen years later, do yours", he said.

At points during his speech, Stewart was forced to pause and gather himself due to the emotional gravity of his words.

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