The bill, called the Never Forget The Heroes Act, would extend the compensation fund to 2090. It was co-sponsored by 312 members of the 435 members of the House. The House Judiciary Committee then unanimously sent the bill to the House floor for a vote, where it was passed.
The bill was then sent to the Senate, where the vote was blocked by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and another republican.
Mr Paul prevented the Senate of voting through unanimous consent, citing the cost of the fund and US debt.
“It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in the country,” said Mr Paul to the Senate.
“And therefore any new spending ... should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable.”We need to at the very least have this debate.”
Mr Stewart called out Mr Paul, saying: “It’s absolutely outrageous. Pardon me if I’m not impressed in any way by Rand Paul’s fiscal responsibility virtue signaling,” during a Fox News interview he did alongside John Feal, a 9/11 first responder.
Mr Stewart has championed the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund from its start.
As more first-responders are becoming ill and dying due to exposure to noxious gases and debris in the weeks after the terrorist attack, Mr Stewart had pleaded to a House of Representatives subcommittee in June to support the Never Forget the Heroes act.
Mr Stewart continued: “Now he 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. Now we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community.”
“At some point, we have to stand up for the people who have always stood up for us, and at this moment in time maybe cannot stand up for themselves due to their illnesses and their injuries. And what Rand Paul did today in the Senate was outrageous.”
“He is a guy who put us in hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. And now he’s going to tell us that a billion dollars a year over 10 years is just too much for us to handle? You know, there are some things that they have no trouble putting on the credit card, but somehow when it comes to the 9/11 first responder community — the cops, the firefighters, the construction workers, the volunteers, the survivors — all of a sudden we’ve got to go through this.”
Senator Paul responded to Mr Stewart’s criticism on Fox News, saying: “I know Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart is sometimes funny, sometimes informed. In this case, he’s neither funny nor informed.”
Mr Paul said the comedian’s “name-calling” showed he was a member of the “left-wing mob” who “really isn’t using his brain.”
“It’s really kind of disgusting,” Mr Paul continued. “He pretended for years when he was on his comedy show to be somebody who could see both sides and see through the B.S. Now he is the B.S. The B.S. meter is through the roof when you see him calling people names and calling people an abomination, when I’m asking for something reasonable.”