CBS News 6/24/19: Mitch McConnell to Meet with First Responders About 9/11 Bill

Mitch McConnell to meet with 9/11 first responders after blistering Capitol Hill testimony

After previously claiming former Daily Show host Jon Stewart was “all bent out of shape” about the need to reauthorize the  9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be changing his tune. The top Senate Republican is now slated to meet face-to-face with members of the first responders community to discuss the need to provide vital health care benefits to those who saved thousands during the attacks on September 11, 2001.

John Feal, a 9/11 recovery worker and the founder of the FealGood Foundation, confirmed to CBS News that McConnell has agreed to meet with a group of first responders to discuss the need to reauthorize the legislation first established nine years ago to help those with illnesses related to the 2001 terror attacks. The legislation has been brought back to the forefront after Stewart delivered a blistering rebuke of Congressional inaction on the measure just as the fund is running short of money.

Asked what he had hoped to accomplish with the meeting, Feal told CBS News: “To let him know we want our legislation refunded and extended in the near future and to sense our urgency and then be left alone.” He later said, “So he is either on board or he gets a street fight.”

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Daily News 6/23/19: Push for Passage of 9/11 VCF Bill in Full Press

Push for passage of Victim Compensation Fund extension in full press this week

Push for passage of Victim Compensation Fund extension in full press this week
Retired Fire Department of New York Lieutenant and 9/11 responder Michael O’Connell, on left, FealGood Foundation co-founder John Feal, center right, and Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart, right, speak to Retired New York Police Department detective and 9/11 responder Luis Alvarez during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is meeting Tuesday with 9/11 first responders who’ve been pushing him to move aggressively to pass a new funding bill to care for Sept. 11 heroes and survivors, even as yet another of them lies dying.

Pressure has mounted on McConnell (R-Ky) since first responders, including cancer-stricken former NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez and comedian Jon Stewart gave heart-wrenching testimony to Congress a little over a week ago about the Victim Compensation Fund, which is running out of money.

Alvarez left that hearing for what would have been his 69th round of chemotherapy, but doctors discovered when he arrived that his liver was no longer functioning and there was nothing they could do.

Alvarez is now in hospice, still hoping Congress will act. “I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time,” he posted on Facebook after hearing from his doctors.

His fellow first responders will go to Washington for him.

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NY Post 6/23/19: Trump To Meet About 9/11 Funding Bill This Week

Trump: ‘We’ll see what happens’ with 9/11 victims fund

Host Chuck Todd asked the president during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that as a New Yorker does he believe Stewart’s accusation that McConnell is standing in the way of reauthorizing the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.“I liked what Jon Stewart did. I actually did. And I actually have a meeting on that subject next week. So we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

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Daily News 6/21/19: City Passes Bill Giving Unlimited Sick Leave to City Workers with 9/11 Illnesses

Lawmakers pass bill providing unlimited sick leave for city workers with 9/11 illnesses in spite of de Blasio pushback

Lawmakers pass bill providing unlimited sick leave for city workers with 9/11 illnesses in spite of de Blasio pushback
(Monaster, Tom)

ALBANY — City workers with illnesses linked to Sept.11 could soon see their right to unlimited sick leave enshrined into law.

State legislators gave final approval early Friday to a bill that would grant all city employees suffering from 9/11-related illnesses guaranteed access to time off — bypassing Mayor de Blasio, who currently doles out time through the city’s unions.

“We think this is the fair and right thing to do, to support those who supported us,” said sponsor Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn). “This right should be universal and unequivocal, not subject to any collective bargaining agreements, not subject to the whims of any mayoral administration.”

City officials argued that the bill is unnecessary, noting that nearly all of the unions representing city employees have finalized sick leave agreements and that 101 employees with diagnosed 9/11-related conditions are being helped.

FDNY and NYPD civilian workers who don’t normally get unlimited sick leave, EMTs, and paramedics would all be covered under the bill. A similar piece of legislation granting unlimited paid sick leave to state employees with a 9/11-related illness outside of the city was signed into law in 2017.

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Open Secrets News 6/21/19: The 9/11 VCF Bill that Special Interests Aren’t Interested In

OpenSecrets News

The 9/11 victim compensation bill special interests aren’t interested in

9/11Jon Stewart and Retired New York Police Department detective and 9/11 responder Luis Alvarez following a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

He isn’t a registered lobbyist, but comedian Jon Stewart may have already made a bigger impact this year than most influencers in Washington. Following last week’s fiery testimony from the former “Daily Show” host, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill to fund continued benefits for those harmed by the 9/11 terror attacks. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provides benefits to those developing health issues related to the terror attack, will run out of money without additional funding from Congress. The bill that would extend funding for the program through 2090, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), is expected to pass the House with ease. It would then go to the upper chamber, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is locked in a feud with Stewart over the comedian’s criticism.

NY Post 6/17/19: Jon Stewart Dares McConnell to Meet With First Responders

Stewart dares McConnell to meet 9/11 first responders

Jon Stewart fired back at Sen. Mitch McConnell Monday, explaining why he’s so “bent out of shape” over securing health care for 9/11 responders — and challenging the Senate majority leader to meet with the ailing heroes on Tuesday.

The former host of “The Daily Show” was responding to McConnell’s interview on “Fox & Friends,” where the Kentucky Republican promised to “take care” of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund after digs from Stewart.

“We have never failed to address this issue. And we will address it again,” McConnell said Monday. “I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape. We will take care of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.”

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Daily News 6/17/19: Stewart Admits He is “Bent out of Shape” About the 9/11 VCF Bill

Jon Stewart admits he’s ‘bent out of shape’ about 9/11 victims bill, says Senate leader McConnell needs to act on measure

Jon Stewart admits he’s ‘bent out of shape’ about 9/11 victims bill, says Senate leader McConnell needs to act on measure
Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart lends his support to firefighters, first responders and survivors of the September 11 terror attacks at a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee as it considers permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, June 11. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Comedian Jon Stewart took umbrage Monday at Sen. Mitch McConnell’s complaint that he’s “bent out of shape” over Congressional inaction on a plan to establish a permanent compensation program for ailing 9/11 victims and first responders.

“I am bent out of shape for them,” Stewart said during an appearance on CBS’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

“These were the first heroes and veterans and victims of the great trillions-of-dollars war on terror, and they are currently suffering and dying in a terrible way,” Stewart said. “You would think that would be enough to get Congress’s attention, but apparently it’s not.”

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NY Post 6/16/19: Jon Stewart Tears Into Mitch McConnell over 9/11 Bill

Jon Stewart rips McConnell over no compassion for 9/11 responders

Fresh off his blistering testimony in front of a House panel, the former “The Daily Show” TV host was asked on “Fox News Sunday” about getting an expansion of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund passed through the Senate.

“Have you had problems with Sen. McConnell?” host Chris Wallace asked.

“Yes,” Stewart replied. “I mean, not me personally, but in terms of getting the 9/11 bills passed, Mitch McConnell has been the white whale of this since 2010.”

The comments came after Stewart shamed members of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday for not showing up to a hearing on reauthorizing the fund, which helps first-responders dealing with 9/11-related health issues.

At a news conference that day, McConnell said:”We’ve always dealt with that in the past in a compassionate way, and I assume we will again.”

But Stewart begged to differ.

“This has never been dealt with compassionately by Sen. McConnell,” Stewart said Sunday.

“He has always held out until the last minute, and only then after intense lobbying and public shaming has he even deigned to move on it.”

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Newsweek 6/14/19: The 9/11 VCF Should be Made Permanent

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Must Be Made Permanent—It’s the Least We Can Do | Opinion

On May 14, Candidus Henry died from glioblastoma, a rare brain cancer. His death added to the growing number of Americans killed by the September 11 attacks. He worked construction, and after the attacks he was assigned to Ground Zero, where he washed dust and cleaned debris off trucks as they left the pile of toxic rubble that once was the Twin Towers.

On Tuesday, June 11, his widow, Anesta Maria St. Rose Henry, testified in front of the House Committee on the Judiciary, sitting in front of two of their children, whom she is now raising alone. She told Congress about Candidus and the hole he left behind—a hole only made larger by the fact that, because her husband died last month instead of two years ago, she and her family will not receive a full award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

The VCF, created to provide financial support for 9/11 first responders, survivors and their families, is expiring next year, and, making matters worse, running out of money. The special master of the fund announced in February that because of a budget shortfall, they were forced to start cutting awards to these heroes by 50 to 70 percent to extend the fund’s life. The Henrys are one of the families devastated by this reduction.

And there are far too many stories like the Henrys’—of pain, suffering and illness.

NY Post 6/13/19: Now It is the Senate’s Duty to Move Fast on 9/11 Bill

Now it’s the Senate’s duty to move fast for hurting 9/11 heroes

Tuesday’s dramatic (and embarrassing, to the no-show members) testimony plainly did the trick: The House Judiciary Committee this week unanimously passed the bill to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund through 2090. It’s time for the Senate to get moving.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) will clearly pass the full House once it gets its official Congressional Budget Office fiscal-impact “score.” So any senators with doubts or questions should raise them now, so a fix can make it into law immediately.

The need is urgent: Because the fund is short of cash, it has had to slash by up to 70% of its payouts to cover the medical bills of workers exposed to toxins in post-9/11 rescue and cleanup operations.

Which is why cancer- and chemo-ravaged Detective Luis Alvarez felt compelled to head to DC to demand action.

The Senate may not want to sign on to renewing the fund for 70 years before looking at why it’s fallen so short of cash now. But it needs to authorize enough money right away to let full payouts resume.

And it needs to get on board with fast passage of a long-term fix so that the cash crunch doesn’t return — and so that no hurting hero like Alvarez ever again has to interrupt treatment to travel to Washington to demand simple justice.

Ending this disgrace needs to be a top priority for the Senate — starting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.