Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to meet with a group of 9/11 first responders tomorrow, just more than a week after wondering on Fox & Friends why Jon Stewart was all “bent out of shape” over the issue.
Tomorrow’s meeting was confirmed to the press – the New York Post broke the story – by John Feal, the 9/11 recovery worker whose FealGood Foundation is a leading advocate for the workers. Feal told CBS News that McConnell will meet with a group of responders at 4 pm Tuesday.
At issue is the reauthorization of legislation to continue funding health care for the responders and recovery workers who have been beset with cancers, lung disease and other illnesses in the 18 years since the attack. The fund is set to expire next year.
Stewart, the former Daily Show host who has been a tireless supporter of the responders for years, made headlines earlier this month when he appeared at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Victim Compensation Fund and excoriated the “shameful,” largely absent members of Congress.
In the emotional reproach captured on CSPAN, Stewart said, “What an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to. Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress…It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution. And you should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren’t here, but you won’t be, because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”
Stewart later reiterated his position in appearances on Fox News with Chris Wallace, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
Last week, McConnell appeared on Fox & Friends, saying that Stewart was “looking for some way to take offense” on the issue and was “bent out of shape.” McConnell said, “We have never failed to address this issue, and we will address it again.”
Feal told CBS News today that his goal for tomorrow’s meeting is to let McConnell know “we want our legislation refunded and extended in the near future and to sense our urgency and then be left alone.” Feal, a construction supervisor at Ground Zero who lost part of his foot in an accident there, said of McConnell, “So he is either on board or he gets a street fight.”
Here is the CSPAN video of Stewart castigating Congress:
Jon Stewart testifies for September 11 Victim Compensation Fund: "Accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber…I'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I am angry, and you should be too." pic.twitter.com/njxJzSmzSJ
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 11, 2019