McConnell on Jon Stewart: 'I don't know why he's all bent out of shape' over 9/11 victims' fund

Dylan Stableford
Senior Writer

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday said he can’t understand why Jon Stewart is angry over the handling of health care funding for 9/11 victims.

“We have never failed to address this issue, and we will address it again,” McConnell said on “Fox & Friends.” “I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape.”

Appearing at a hearing of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee last week, Stewart made an impassioned plea for lawmakers to reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which is set to expire next year amid mounting claims from first responders, construction workers and others involved in operations at Ground Zero up through May 30, 2002.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart. (Photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images, Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

For years afterward, and down to the present, many first responders have been diagnosed with cancer or other diseases related to exposure to toxic material at the site.

The former “Daily Show” host berated those who failed to show up to the hearing.

“Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak — to no one,” Stewart said. “Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution.”

The subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has 14 members, but fewer than half were present in the room at various points during the emotional hearing.

On “Fox & Friends,” McConnell said such absences are common in Congress.

“That frequently happens because members have a lot of things going on at the same time,” the Kentucky Republican said, adding, “It sounds to me like he’s looking for some way to take offense.”

A day after Stewart’s emotional appearance on Capitol Hill, the House panel voted unanimously to advance the 9/11 compensation bill. It now moves the House floor for a full vote.

The same day, McConnell was asked about the status of the soon-to-lapse fund.

“Gosh, we haven’t looked at that in a while,” the majority leader replied. “But we will look at it and I’m sure we’ll deal with it as compassionately as we have in the past.”

Stewart blasted McConnell in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”

“I want to make it clear that this has never been dealt with compassionately by Sen. McConnell,” he said. “He has always held out until the very last minute and only then, under intense lobbying and public shaming has he even deigned to move on it.”

Stewart said the community of 9/11 victims is “at the end of their rope.”

“I think there’s a feeling of disbelief,” Stewart 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.”

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