On one of the darkest days in America’s history, New York City first responders were a shining light as they risked their lives to rescue victims after terrorists brought down the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
Comedian Jon Stewart on Monday praised the Trump administration’s commitment to those heroes and encouraged Congress to provide funds and health care to address the health complications people who worked at Ground Zero have suffered since the attack.
“The Trump Justice Department is doing an excellent job administrating this program. The claims are going through faster, and the awards are coming through,” the former “The Daily Show” host said.
Surrounded by politicians, Stewart tapped the mic to ensure what he was saying was being heard.
“The Trump Justice Department,” Stewart repeated. “I don’t know about anything else, I’m not going to comment on anything else, but that’s why we’re in the problem that we’re in, is the program works exactly like it’s supposed to. So now, it’s Congress’s job to fund it properly.”
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, first responders were erroneously told by Environmental Protection Agency administrators that the air at ground zero was safe to breathe, NBC News reported.
Nevertheless, in the years since 2001, many first responders have suffered from cancer and have other health issues that can be linked to their work at the toxic site.
The World Trade Center Health Program was passed by Congress in 2010 to help people with illnesses that have been linked to the disaster.
Although Congress passed legislation to provide care for those who responded, some believe more money should be used to help alleviate the costs facing survivors, The Washington Post reported.
Jon Stewart: Its not about ideology and partisanship, congress has fiduciary responsibility to fund programs that have been put into place to take care of moral damage and they need to do it urgently and cleanly and not use men and women as bargaining chip in larger funding bill
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) February 25, 2019
Stewart urged Congress to approve a bill that would ensure first responders are fully covered for the costs incurred by their service.
“It is our duty to these first responders and these survivors. They came down to the site as fast as they could, and they stayed there for months tenaciously searching, first as a rescue operation and then as a recovery operation,” Stewart said Monday.
Comedian Jon Stewart, who is in Washington to advocate for the protection of a 9/11 victims fund, says, “You don’t even have to really make a pitch because the moral argument is already there. It’s sort of incomprehensible” https://t.co/IeWPZxzQSk pic.twitter.com/qzhlhFPP0j
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 25, 2019
Stewart noted that the sacrifice of New York’s first responders helped America recover.
“(T)hey helped stabilize not just New York City, but the entire country during that time. And they were told by the government — the EPA specifically made an announcement that the air down there was safe, knowing full well that it was not anywhere near safe,” Stewart said.
“The idea that 18 years later they’re still tugging on the hemline on the government to get this bill through and get it funded properly is truly beyond comprehension,” he continued.
The bill would extend and fully fund the current program for 70 years.
“If there’s anyone who’s able to break this loose, it’s Jon Stewart,” said Republican New York Rep. Peter King, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “He brought it out of the political realm, out of the debate, showed what nonsense some of the arguments were against it.”
“It’s an error of omission, not to keep the coverage going,” Stewart said. “It’s not about advocating to get them to do it. … For everything they have done, the last thing they deserve is our apathy.”
“I think it’s a moral responsibility. It’s not advocating in the sense of bias, it’s advocating in the sense of truth.”