17 Years Later, Jon Stewart Continues To Fight For 9/11 First Responders

"They're not going to stop. I'm not going to stop."

Jon Stewart has made himself clear: he will continue to fight for 9/11 first responders to receive the health care funding they need from Congress, and he won't stop naming and shaming until they get it.

Stewart, who has been fighting alongside 9/11 first responders to receive health coverage through the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, took a trip to Congress to testify on their behalf last Monday. The program gives financial aid to 9/11 first responders, many of whom are battling life-threatening illnesses after coming in contact with harmful pollutants at Ground Zero in the wake of the terrorist attack. 

After testifying before Congress on behalf of the first responders, Stewart heaped some unexpected praise on President Donald Trump and his administration last week.

"Are the cameras on? Is everybody on me?" Stewart asked the press after testifying before Congress. "The Trump Justice Department is doing an excellent job administrating this program. The claims are going through faster, and the awards are coming through."

Stewart jokingly tapped the microphone after his comments, as if acknowledging people would be surprised to hear him compliment a president he's often been critical of. Part of the issue, Stewart explained, is that now that the program is working as it should, the fund is running out of money. So he has lobbied Congress to fully fund the program so it can support all the surviving 9/11 responders for the rest of their lives.

"How about we make a deal?" Stewart said. "This is your opportunity to write a final chapter for these men and women who fought for 18 years. They fought when nobody believed they were sick. They fought when nobody believed that their sickness was caused by 9/11. They fought when nobody thought their health care was worth paying for. They fought every step of the way and it is an embarrassment to us and our country."

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On Sunday night, President Trump retweeted video of Stewart's comments. Shortly after, The New York Daily News followed up with Stewart for comment, and he affirmed what he said at the press conference. "The Trump Justice Department is doing a good job running the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund," Stewart told The Daily News

$5 billion of the $7.4 billion fund has already been paid out and pending claims will be cut by 50 percent, The New York Daily News reported. Unless the fund is re-upped by Congress, it will end before 2021. 

"You know the tenacity of the people in front of you," Stewart said. "They're not going to stop. I'm not going to stop. And ultimately we're going to get to a point where the light shines and shame is brought. And then this will happen."

Cover image via a katz / Shutterstock.com.

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