Despite invoking the specters of 9/11 at every conceivable opportunity to drum up anti-Islamic sentiment and to convince our population that invading Muslim countries is the only way to fight terrorism, Republican legislators in Congress couldn’t seem to find the money to reauthorize healthcare subsidies for the 9/11 first responders. The brave men and women who risked their lives to save others, who suffer from all sorts of bizarre cancers and lung ailments from selflessly plunging into the inferno in their efforts to save the victims of the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, have been, like the veterans of our military, were used by Republican legislators for their political potency and then callously tossed aside.
Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart has made it his mission to get Congress to reauthorize the Zadroga Act, which expired earlier this year. POLITICO reported that it was Stewart’s lobbying that got the bill passed in the first place, and he has embarked on a crusade to shame the Republican Senators who don’t feel this is important enough to spend money on:
“the bill Stewart is pushing for now would permanently extend health care and monitoring programs for the 9/11 first responders and survivors that are set to start expiring at the end of September, as well as the victim compensation fund. While money for the health care efforts won’t run out right away, sponsors say that if they don’t see movement by the end of 2015, medical professionals and clinics specializing in Ground Zero-related illnesses will likely start informing their staff of layoffs and other service terminations.”
Stewart’s campaign has specifically targeted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for obstructing the the renewal of 9/11 first responder healthcare funds for petty and selfish political reasons. Stewart appeared on the Daily Show appearance specifically to call out McConnell for his hypocritical refusal to reauthorize the James Zadroga Act while having passed an identical bill for coal workers in the state of Kentucky (“It’s bullsh*t”). McConnell refused to include the funding with last month’s highway bill, despite support from 66 Senators and 250 House members, in order to use it as a bargaining chip in order to lift the ban on oil exports and please his masters in the fossil fuel industry. It was a despicable act of political maneuvering that only a Republican could stomach.
It is with great pleasure that we can announce that Stewart’s efforts have proven successful. Senate Minority Whip Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has announced that provisions for a five-year extension of the bill and provide some $4.6 billion dollars for its funding have been added to the omnibus spending bill currently being debated in Congress. Whether or not that spending bill will pass, of course, is another manner entirely up to the legislative terrorists hold control of both Houses of Congress. We applaud Stewart for his stalwart defense of the men and women who sacrificed so much.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.