“We have never failed to address the issue, and we will address it again,” Mr McConnell said during an appearance on Fox & Friends on Monday, responding to criticism of the comedian that he does not act quickly to ensure funding for the American heroes.
“I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape," he continued.
Stewart once again drew national attention to the cause after his appearance before a nearly empty House Judiciary Committee last week, where made an impassioned plea for the reauthorisation of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. It would be the third reauthorization for the lifesaving funding.
He shamed the members of Congress who did not attend the committee hearing, which was convened to discuss the reauthorization of a fund set up to help 9/11 first responders and victims with cancer and other diseases related to exposure to toxic chemicals and materials after the attacks.
"Shameful," Stewart said of the behaviour of Congress, which has forced sick 9/11 victims to make the trek to from New York to Washington to plead for help.
The bill ultimately passed through the house committee last week, and was headed to the full house for consideration.
With another fight over the funding in the Senate — a body Mr McConnell controls — the comedian-turned-activist said during a Fox News Sunday appearance that seven first responders had died from 9/11-related in the past week.
He also slammed Mr McConnell for his previous role in the reauthorization process.
“I want to make it clear that this has never been dealt with compassionate;y by senator McConnell,” Stewart said. “He has always held out until the very last minute and only then, under intense lobbying and public shaming has he even designed to move on it.”
He continued, noting in that interview that the victims of the attacks are “at the end of their rope.”
“I think there’s a feeling of disbelief,” he said. “They can’t understand why they have to continually saddle up and ride down to Washington and make these appeals for something that should be simple but is somehow, through politics, made agonizingly difficult.”
He added: “If you were to take all the arrogance and entitlement and elitism that people don’t like about Hollywood and show business, and you concentrated it in one city, and gave those people actual power, that’s Washington.”
A request for comment sent to Stewart's agent was not returned.