During an interview on Capitol Hill early Monday, Jon Stewart, flanked by 9/11 responder John Feal got right to the point in a blunt message to Congress, telling it to quit dragging its’ heels and fully fund the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
Talking to CNN anchor Sandra Smith, he had this to say:
“These are men and women who have suffered great illnesses because of their heroic work down on Ground Zero during 9/11 and during the months that passed,” he said. “They deserve our attention. They’ve always answered the call for us and we need to answer the call for them.”
Indeed first responders have suffered catastrophic health problems in the years since, with The Guardian reporting more than 10,000 people being diagnosed with cancer linked to 9/11.
During the interview with Smith Stewart said it is “unconscionable” that victims have to push Congress to get the help they need, considering what they went through. He noted that first responders have had to fight for healthcare by proving to the government that there’s a link between their health problems and the hazardous conditions caused by the collapse of the World Trade Centers, Mediaite reports.
“This is a national embarrassment and crisis,” Stewart said. “They’ve got to step up.”
Stewart and Feal told Smith they plan to “expose” anyone in Congress who practices “political malpractice” on this piece of legislation, Deadline reports.
And in an op-ed for The New York Daily News, Stewart took the Justice Department to task for proposing deep cuts to the VCF.
“Last week, the Justice Department announced that because of a lack of funding, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) will need to make severe cuts of between 50 percent and 70 percent on pending compensation awards for injuries caused by the toxins,” Stewart wrote. “This will impact thousands of 9/11 responders survivors and their families who have been waiting years for help.”
“This is madness,” he added.
In the opinion piece, he called for Congress to pass the Never Forget The Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He noted the legislation fully funds the VCF “so that these heroes never have to drag themselves down these hallways again.” The bill was introduced Monday by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, Cory Gardner, and Reps. Peter King, Carolyn Maloney, and Gerry Nadler, Stewart noted.
Illnesses stemming from 9/11 are affecting at least 45,000 people, and cancer claims the life of one first responder or survivor every day, he writes.
The videos below show just how tough it’s been to get funding for those who saved so many lives during the 9/11 tragedy.
Featured image from video above