Jon Stewart gave a stirring speech on Tuesday eviscerating congress over the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
Stewart appeared in congressional chambers on Tuesday, and he was sorely disappointed in the lawmakers that did not. The former Daily Show host got serious when it came to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. According to a report by CBS News the meeting was held to determine whether the fund she be reauthorized, and to Stewart, there was no question.
"As I sit here today, I can't help what think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process of getting healthcare and benefits for 9/11 first responders," he said. "Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front on me, a nearly empty Congress."
Stewart was in fact facing down a sparsely populated bench, but he gave a thanks to Congressman Jerry Nadler for "putting this together." Meanwhile, behind him, the seats were full of 9/11 first responders and their families, some of whom also gave testimony on Tuesday.
"Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one... shameful," Stewart said.
Stewart was speaking ot the House Judiciary Subcommitte on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which has 14 members, most of whom are democrats. Almost half of those members reportedly skipped Tuesday's meeting, and Stewart did his best to shame them for that.
The comedian called those absent lawmakers an "embarrassment to this country" and a "stain on this institution."
"You should be ashamed of yourselves for not being here," he went on. "Accountability appears to not be something that occurs in this chamber."
As for the issue itself, Stewart found it unthinkable that congress would hesitate to reauthorize the fund. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund provides financial support for thousands of Americans who suffered serious medical issues due to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The fund will lapse at the end of 2020 unless congress agrees to reauthorize it, which comes with a heavy price tag. Still, to Stewart, there is no price too high.
"Why this bill is not unanimous consent is beyond my comprehension," he said. "More of these men and women are going to get sick, and they're going to die, and I'm awfully tired of hearing this is a 'New York issue.' Al-Qaeda didn't shout 'death to Tribeca.' They attacked America."
Stewart received a standing ovation in the room for his words, and a video of the testimony went viral on social media. As for the fund, there is no word yet on how congress will vote on the issue.