In an emotional hearing Tuesday, comedian and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and a room full of 9/11 first responders and their family once again pleaded for Congress to set up a permanent victim compensation fund. The House Judiciary Committee is set to vote on a new billWednesday that would permanently authorize funding for the program.

Stewart was nearly moved to tears, his voice often breaking, as he expressed frustration that 9/11 first responders are once again scrambling while Congress debates if it should secure funding for healthcare for them.

“They responded in five seconds, they did their jobs. With courage grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later, do yours!" Stewart shouted at Congress, noting the official response time of first responders during 9/11.

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Stewart also chided Congress for not giving the issue and the heroes of 9/11 the proper attention they deserve.


Stewart has been a vocal supporter of setting up a permanent victims compensation fund for 9/11 first responders dating back to his time on The Daily Show. The fund was first created in 2001, but has twice had to come to Capitol Hill to fight for more funding, first in 2010 and then again in 2015. Just four years later, Stewart and the 9/11 first responders are once again fighting for funding as the number of cancer cases and other health issues continue to grow in those who heroically responded to help during the tragedy. ABC
reports that since 9/11, 200 firefighters have died from 9/11 related ailments. It is reported that 300 firefighters died on the day of the attack. "Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time," Stewart said.

Stewart also took aim at Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who held up the bill in 2015 before using it in last-minute negotiations on year-end spending. On Tuesday, Stewart responded promising that those who support the bill won’t allow a “certain someone” in the Senate to use the program as a “political football” in spending negotiations.

Stewart wasn't the only person to speak to Congress on behalf of first responders, but his statements were the most fiery and drew a standing ovation.

“I'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I'm angry, and you should be, too, and they're all angry as well and they have every justification to be that way,” Stewart said.