WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday signed a bill ensuring that a victims' compensation fund related to the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money.

Appearing in the Rose Garden with more than 60 first-responders from the 2001 terrorist attacks, Trump sent into law an extension of the fund through 2092, essentially making it permanent.

"You inspire all of humanity," Trump said of the "true American warriors" who rushed to help victims on the day of the attacks and searched for remains for months after.

He added that the nation has a "sacred obligation" to care for the responders and their families.

The $7.4 billion fund had been rapidly depleting, and administrators recently cut benefit payments by up to 70%.

The bill passed Congress on a bipartisan basis, but only after delays by some Republicans exposed the legislative branch to withering criticism from activists including comedian Jon Stewart.

Earlier this month, Stewart, a New Jersey resident, reacted on camera with Fox News, after U.S. Sen. Paul held up the bill to ensure the funding for survivors of the 2011 terror attacks. The former Daily Show host and current Monmouth County resident said 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."

More than 40,000 people have applied to the fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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