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Jon Stewart Blasts Empty Congressional Panel for Failing Dying 9/11 First Responders

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This week Jon Stewart called out members of Congress for failing to attend a hearing on the funding for the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund, calling their actions “shameful” and “a stain on this institution.”


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Lindsay Elizabeth

This week Jon Stewart called out members of Congress for failing to attend a hearing on the funding for the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund, calling their actions “shameful” and “a stain on this institution.”

The comedian and former Daily Show host addressed Congress on Tuesday during House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on continuing funding for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.

“Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders,” Stewart said emotionally. “And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. 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.”

“As I sit here today, 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,” the former Daily Show host said.

Steward condemned the actions of congress, telling them that they should be “ashamed” for not showing up for the hearing.

“You should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren’t here,” Stewart said, “but you won’t be, because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”

The September 11 Victims Compensation Fund grants federal assistance to survivors of 9/11, if they show that the attack negatively affected their health during the attack. The fund is seeking more money as it is currently running out of funding.

“None of these people want to be here,” Stewart continued, referencing the 911 victims that were present. “But they are. And they’re not here for themselves. They’re here to continue fighting for what’s right.”

Steward pointed out that while lawmakers were able to tweet “Never forget the heroes of 9/11,” not a single one showed up to a hearing about the heroes of 9/11.

“Well here they are!” the comedian said. “And where are they?”

Stewart, shaking his head, added: “It would be one thing if their callous indifference and rank hypocrisy were benign, but it’s not.”

“Your indifference costs these men and women their most valuable commodity: time. It’s the one thing they’re running out of.”

While Stewart’s remarks were heartfelt and sincere, Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn) explained that the reason no one attended the hearing was that it was only a subcommittee meeting.

“My subcommittee, every single member on my side, which is eight of us, have been here today,” Cohen said. “All these empty chairs that’s because it’s for the full committee, not because it’s disrespect or lack of attention to you.”

Cohen added that he appreciated Stewart had “done and what you do, and what you’ve said,” adding, “the Congress will respond.”