Jon Stewart pleaded with lawmakers on Tuesday to renew the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which is set to expire next year, during an impassioned speech at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.
“Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: Time!,” Stewart said, lambasting the mostly-empty committee hearing. “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. Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak. To no one.”
Stewart continued: “Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution. And you should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren’t here, but you won’t be, because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”
The hearing on Tuesday was on a bill that would fund health benefits for first responders in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for the next 70 years. Since retiring from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” in 2015, Stewart has become an advocate for the first responders.
You can watch his full remarks in the video above.
The Fund was created to “provide compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes,” according the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund’s website.
The original VCF operated from 2001-2004. In 2011, President Obama signed into law the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which reactivated the VCF. It was renewed in 2015 through Dec. 18, 2020.