Jon Stewart in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 11. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
We don’t hear much anymore from Jon Stewart, the former Daily Show host whose regular “eviscerations” of deserving targets were once the subject of so many blog posts. But on Tuesday, he emerged for a moment from his comfortable retirement to lash out at Congress from inside the Capitol.
The occasion? The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is running out of money “and has had to slash payouts to ailing responders and survivors by more than half,” according to the Daily News. The fund, which was last reauthorized in 2015, set aside $7 billion to help cover the costs associated with post-9/11 illnesses. They’re costs that retired NYPD Bomb Squad Detective Louis Alvarez knows well. On Wednesday, he is set to undergo his 69th round of chemotherapy for 9/11-linked cancer. On Tuesday, he told the committee, “It is my goal and my legacy to see that you do the right thing for all 9/11 responders.”
Stewart, who has long used his platform to advocate on behalf of 9/11 first responders, spoke after Alvarez and began by criticizing the committee members who were not seated before him. According to CBS News, a “little over half of the 14-member subcommittee members were present, mostly Democrats.”
“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,” he said. “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’s a stain on this institution.”