Jon Stewart’s lobbying has paid off as Congress will extend the 9/11 responders health care fund for five more years as part of the omnibus spending bill.
Roll Call reported:
Another outstanding measure, one that would reauthorize health care spending for 9/11 responders, was on track to be added to the omnibus. Supporters, including comedian Jon Stewart, have been pushing Congress hard to take up the reauthorization, which expired earlier this year.
Negotiators are very close to a final agreement that would extend the Zadroga Act’s health fund to 2090, the office of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., told Roll Call.
The deal would provide for a five-year extension of the victims compensation fund, with $4.6 billion, with the agreement being included in the omnibus spending bill.
Stewart has lobbied Congress twice in the last four months to extend health care spending for 9/11 responders.
Less than two weeks ago, Stewart hammered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for holding up the funding for 9/11 heroes until he could get the ban lifted on oil exports. Stewart said, “The man has literally sponsored and touted the exact same bill for energy workers. I honestly just wish I could understand the rationale. That bill cost twice as much what they’re asking for these guys.”
The rationale is that Republicans were holding healthcare funding for first responders hostage, and using it as a bargaining chip to get a gift for Big Oil.
Jon Stewart isn’t on Comedy Central anymore, but he remains a powerful and forceful advocate for the causes that he believes in.
Some feel that Stewart deserves much of the credit for getting the original bill passed in 2010.
Politico summed up Stewart’s role in holding congressional feet to the fire:
Many advocates still credit Stewart with making the whole thing happen. After the segment aired, the Senate in the closing hours of its 2010 lame duck session ultimately approved a compromise five-year, $4.2 billion bill by a unanimous voice vote. House Democratic leaders about to relinquish their majority with the next Congress had to summon a couple of lawmakers back to Washington for the vote on final passage, which came about a week after Stewart’s segment aired.
“We call him the Christmas miracle of 2010,” said Scott Chernoff, a retired officer from the New York Police Department who was at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11 and then spent about 300 hours working security at Ground Zero in its aftermath.
After he retired from The Daily Show, Jon Stewart could have walked away. Instead, he is fighting harder than ever for what is right, and if Republicans keep control of either the House and/or the Senate, Stewart may have to wage the same battle again in 2020-2021.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association