Jon Stewart rips latest 9/11 victim fund hold up as ‘abomination’
Jon Stewart said U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's move Wednesday to stall the renewal and reauthorization of the 9/11 victims' compensation fund was "outrageous," while first responder John Feal called the Republican from Kentucky an "opportunist."
Stewart and Feal reacted on camera with Fox News, after Paul held up the bill to ensure the funding for survivors of the 2011 terror attacks, victims' families and for the health care of Sept. 11 first responders.
The former Daily Show host and current Monmouth County resident said Rand Paul "put us in hundreds of billions of dollars in debt," by voting for the $1.5 trillion tax cut after presenting "tissue paper avoidance."
Stewart said now Paul "stands up at the last minute, after 15 years of blood, sweat, and tears from the 9/11 community, to say that it's all over now and we're going to balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community."
Paul said the expenses of the fund were his reason for preventing the bill from being sent directly to President Trump for his signature.
"Senator Paul is not blocking anything. He is simply seeking to pay for it. As with any bill, Senator Paul always believes it needs to be paid for. Senator Paul is simply offering an amendment, which other senators support, to pay for this legislation,” Paul's office said in a written statement late Wednesday.
The 9/11 fund program has shown itself to be "faithful to the statute, fair to the claimant" and respectful to the taxpayers, Stewart said, and also said "at some point, we have to stand up for the people that have always stood up for us... and at this moment in time cannot stand up for themselves."
Five years into the compensation fund program, there's been no fraud, no waste and no abuse, Stewart said, based on testimony in June by the compensation fund special master.
There was also word that U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, had voiced reservations with the measure, which prompted Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation 9/11 advocacy group, to take aim at both Senators.
Feal called Paul and Lee "opportunists" and "bottom feeders" and said "you can't cherry-pick when you want to be a conservative fiscal hawk" as it's just insulting to the 9/11 community's collective intelligence.
The full clip of Stewart and Feal is below:
Despite Paul's rejection of the bill being "fast tracked," U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already has agreed to call a Senate vote on the bill, following a late June meeting with a group of first responders.
McConnell told ABC News last month he hoped for a vote before the August recess.
Earlier this month, Congressional sponsors said the bill to re-authorize the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund will be named in honor of first responders Luis Alvarez and Ray Pfeifer.
The full name of the legislation will become the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund Act.”
Alvarez, an NYPD detective, died on June 29, of cancer he was diagnosed with after extensive time spent at Ground Zero recovery efforts. It was a little over two weeks after he testified alongside Stewart, for a final time, before a House Judiciary sub-committee hearing.
Pfeifer, a FDNY firefighter, died in May 2017 after an eight-year battle with cancer, also developed after months at Ground Zero.
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