Jon Stewart's emotional speech to lawmakers about 9/11 first responders

Late night TV host Jon Stewart has emotionally addressed Congress over health care for responders to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Congress was meeting over the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which is due to run out soon.

Many first responders have faced health issues since working in the aftermath of the attack. Dozens have died due to cancers linked to toxins from the buildings.

Legislation has been introduced to permanently keep the fund, but at the moment it is will end in 2020.

The special master who runs the fund has announced payouts will be cut by between 50 and 70 percent to ensure all have been paid.

Stewart, who is an advocate for the first responders, slammed those who didn't attend the meeting. Many lawmakers on the panel failed to show, leaving the room mostly empty.

"Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress...

"Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. 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."

A man with tears in his eyes, holding a pen.
Jon Stewart. Photo credit: Getty

Stewart had to stop to compose himself during the speech, many times appearing at the point of tears.

He spoke of firefighter Ray Pfeifer, who died in 2017 from cancer as a result of his work at Ground Zero.

"[Pfeifer] would say, 'Calm down, Jon, calm down, I've got all the cards I need.' And he would tap his pocket where he kept the prayer cards of 343 firefighters."

Stewart said the lawmakers claimed to stand with the first responders on social media, but did not put the work in where it counts.

"There is not a person here, there is not an empty chair on that stage, that didn't tweet out, 'Never forget the heroes of 9/11.'

"Well, here they are! And where are they?

"Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity - time! It's the one thing they're running out of."


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