Jon Stewart accused Congress of “ignoring” first responders whose health has been impacted by the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.
In a fiery and tearful speech in front of a portion of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the comedian — along with several first responders — urged lawmakers to reauthorize funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
“No American in this country should face financial ruin because of a health issue. Certainly, 9/11 first responders shouldn’t have to decide to live or have a place to live,” said Stewart, 56.
Luis Alvarez, a retired bomb-squad detective for the New York Police Department, told the committee that he has cancer because of the fallout of the attacks.
Alvarez said he had already been through 68 rounds of chemotherapy. “Yeah, you heard me right,” he told Congress. “I will not stand by as my friends with cancer from 9/11, like me, are valued less than anyone else.”
In recent years, more and more 9/11 first responders have been diagnosed with illnesses that have been linked to their participation in rescue and recovery efforts following the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The last effort to continue funding for the Victim Compensation Fund came in 2015 with the passing of a five-year extension. The extension was meant to last until December 2020, but the fund announced in a February statement that claims were increasing and money was running out much more quickly than anticipated.