Last night's episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central featured the return of former host Jon Stewart, who urged for public support of an important bill that would fund health care for 9/11 first responders. It was Stewart's first appearance on the program since he left in August.
Stewart was promoting the Zadroga Act, which covers medical expenses for 9/11 first responders who contracted life-threatening diseases from their work at the World Trade Center in 2001. Congress passed the bill five years ago, after activists like Jon Stewart urged them to do so. The bill expired on October 1, and the funding will end by the end of the year unless Congress reinstates it.
Stewart joined a group of 9/11 first responders in Washington last week to lobby Congress to pass the bill. Together, they confronted Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, inside the United States Capitol to get his support.
Despite having 67 U.S. Senators and 260 members of the House of Representatives sponsor the bill, Congress has not passed it yet.
What’s stopping this no-brainer bill? Stewart said, “no brains.”
Specifically, Stewart called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican of Kentucky, who pulled the Zadroga Act out of last week's transportation bill. According to Stewart, McConnell pulled the bill to get concessions on loosening energy regulations.
"He's been an enormous obstacle," Stewart said on The Daily Show. "Unwilling to move the bill forward for purely political reasons."
In 2010, Stewart interviewed four 9/11 first responders on The Daily Show as a special panel to promote the passage of the bill. Stewart welcomed the same group of first responders back last night to discuss the bill again.
However, only one of the first responders from the original panel returned.
Two of the first responders are ill, and another one passed away.
The only first responder to return to the panel, Kenny Specht, recently met with McConnell in Washington. He said McConnell promised to attach the Zadroga Act to another bill that would pass this upcoming week.
"We're going to keep him to his word" Specht said on The Daily Show.
"They have paid for this bill over and over again with the lives of their friends and with their health. So, if I hear one more of these guys talking about a 'pay-for', it's going to make me insane," Stewart said on The Daily Show. "What message does it send to our first responders if once we're done – as a nation – with them helping us, that we forget about them? That's unacceptable to me."
A spokesman for McConnell's office said to CBS News, "Everyone, Republican and Democrat, House and Senate, is working very hard to get this done. And it will get done."
Jon Stewart needs your help to ensure the bill passes.
Stewart ended his appearance as a guest on The Daily Show by asking the viewers, specifically those in McConnell's home state of Kentucky, to use the social media hashtag of #WorstResponders to encourage Congress to pass the bill.