Jon Stewart blasted lawmakers Tuesday as he called on Congress to reauthorize the 9/11 victims compensation fund. The measure aims to protect the healthcare benefits of those with medical issues related to the terrorist attacks. Earlier this year, the Justice Department announced the fund was running out of money and that the payouts would be cut by 70 percent.
Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 first-responders, pushed for the fund's reauthorization in a speech delivered to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The former Daily Show host expressed his frustration over Congress' "indifference" to matter, as only five out of the 14 subcommittee members showed up to the hearing.
"Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time. It's the one thing they're running out of," Steward said. "They responded [to the 9/11 attacks] in five seconds. They did their jobs, with courage, grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later, do yours!"
According to the New York Post, the subcommittee has 14 members. Those in attendance were: Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Mike Johnson (R-LA). Other lawmakers who supported the bill gave testimonies and/or monitored the hearing.
Retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez also spoke before the House panel Tuesday.
"Less than 24 hours from now I will be starting my 69th round of chemotherapy—yeah, you heard that correctly," said Alvarez, who was also a 9/11 first-responder. "I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11 like me are valued less than anyone else."