Jon Stewart testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday while accompanied by dozens of 9/11 first responders, all in an attempt to secure funding for emergency workers and survivors who have been diagnosed with cancer and respiratory disease caused by Ground Zero toxins. Congress is soon expected to vote on the “Never Forget the Heroes Act,” which would extend medical funding for survivors beyond 2020, when it was set to end.
Currently, more than 11,000 first responders and survivors have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancers. The bipartisan act was introduced back in February by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) to fully fund and extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) through 2090.
Unfortunately, Stewart’s testimony fell on deaf ears, largely due to the fact that many Congress members didn’t even bother to show up for it. And true to form, Stewart did not hold back in admonishing those who failed to attend:
As I sit here today I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting healthcare 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. 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 who aren’t here, but you won’t be. Because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.
Not surprisingly, many on Twitter were quick to rally around Stewart for his fortitude in calling out the committee members:
This is not the first time and will likely not be the last that Stewart has taken a stand for 9/11 responders. Shortly after leaving his helm at The Daily Show in 2015, the former host made an appearance to call out Mitch McConnell for politically sidestepping the Zadroga Bill, which had been named after a New York Police Department officer whose death was linked to exposures from the World Trade Center disaster.
You can watch Stewart’s entire testimony below: