Comedian Jon Stewart is a longtime champion of 9/11 first responders, and he’s spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill arguing for their health care and benefits.
Stewart returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a hearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee, where he delivered an emotional testimony.
The room was almost empty of members of Congress, and Stewart began by saying: “I can’t help but think 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 — shameful,” Stewart continued, seemingly holding back tears. “It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Later in his testimony, Stewart said: “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.”
Here’s Stewart’s opening statement:
Jon Stewart testifies for September 11 Victim Compensation Fund: "Accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber…I'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I am angry, and you should be too." pic.twitter.com/njxJzSmzSJ
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 11, 2019
This isn’t even the first time this year that Stewart has come to Congress to beg them to help the first responders who were on the ground that tragic day in 2001. A few months ago, he was on the Hill trying to get Congress to help the men and women.
For years, Congress has slow-walked passage of a bill that would fund health care for those first responders, and for years, Stewart has been one of their loudest advocates. On two occasions, lawmakers have renewed compensation for these men and women but with a five-year sunset on each occasion. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have introduced a bill that would fund medical care for them for a longer period.