This shouldn’t be so difficult.
“They did their job, now you do yours”. –Jon Stewart speaking to Congress regarding health benefits for 9/11 1st responders
Last Wednesday, comedian and advocate for 9/11 first responders, Jon Stewart sat before a House Judiciary Sub-Committee, (or should I say, a portion of the committee) to encourage them to fully fund legislation to pay for health care benefits for those who responded to and worked in the aftermath of the attack in New York City on September 11, 2001.
While I have never been a big fan of Jon as an entertainer, and his political views don’t align with my own, his well-articulated and from-the-heart plea was among the most impactful I have ever heard. He didn’t read a word of it, he simply told law makers what the rest of the nation already knows.
What we didn’t know 2001, but do know now is that there was an incredibly high amount of toxins in the air and water in lower Manhattan stemming from the terrorist attacks and that those workers who were exposed to these toxins have experienced astronomical levels of unusual cancers and other health ailments that have led to the premature deaths of many and ongoing sickness of thousands more.
In an attempt to get a handle on the problem, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 was passed into law to provide health monitoring and financial aid to the first responders, volunteers, and survivors of the September 11 attacks.
The law funds and establishes a health program to provide medical treatment for responders and survivors who experienced or may experience health complications related to the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Yet since 2010 funding this law has been an uphill battle. This year claims were cut drastically as money ran out and health issues of those who worked at Ground Zero continued to climb.
In his testimony at the Capitol, Mr. Stewart said that the funding for these heroes should be by “unanimous consent”. For those that are not familiar with that term, it is a procedure in which no member of the elected body objects to the passage of a motion and it immediately passes.
When we think back to the support the nation has shown for our 9/11 first responders, instantaneous passage of legislation to support those facing health issues that are a direct result of their service immediately after a terrorist attack does not seem far-fetched. Yet here we are…begging and pleading our leaders to take care of those who rushed in as the towers fell.
On June 9th, in a gallery full of sick and dying policemen, firemen and EMTs some members of Congress didn’t bother to show up for the testimony and their indifference did not go unnoticed. Stewart’s scathing and impassioned speech left the law makers who did attend, sitting in stunned silence.
Stewart, the former “Daily Show” host, pulled no punches, calling out congress on “callous indifference and rank hypocrisy” in failing to renew the fund.
“Why this bill isn’t unanimous consent and a stand-alone issue, is beyond my comprehension. And I’ve yet to hear a reasonable explanation as to why,” said Stewart, who also blasted lawmakers for failing to attend Tuesday’s hearing. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me a nearly empty Congress.”
What should we take away from this?
In the hyper-partisan world of American politics, this legislation should be something that falls under the category of “no-brainer”.
There is literally not one single reason this should not be a 435-0 vote in the house and a 100-0 vote in the senate.
YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS VIDEO. An emotional Jon Stewart is given the turnout coat of @FDNY legend Ray Pfeifer, who died from 9/11 related cancer. Ret #FDNY Kenny Specht makes the presentation outside a Congressional hearing room. @wcbs880 #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/WD6kW5Lvje
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) June 11, 2019
This is where we show those who served, those who continue to serve and those who are considering a career in public service that we don’t forget, we don’t abandon, and we don’t turn our backs on those who rush toward danger. We take care of those who take care of us.
Comedian Jon Stewart is all business at House hearing. He blasted Congress for its inaction in failing to fully fund #VCF. This was an attack on US. Stewart testified “al Qaeda didn’t shout death to Tribeca.” @wcbs880 #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/DNjt2y6Zqm
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) June 11, 2019
So to those who represent us inside the beltway please hear what I am saying:
This is your chance to impress us. All of us.
When it comes to 9/11 survivors, don’t be a Democrat or Republican. Be an American who doesn’t hesitate to stand up for what is right.
Stand alongside these victims, and not only will you will have the thanks of a nation; you will show those that served and are yet to serve that we won’t abandon our heroes when they need us most.
It’s your move. Don’t let us down.
-Chief Eric Kaiser
Chief Kaiser is a Master Texas Peace Officer, a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Command College, and is certified as a Sexual Assault/Family Violence Investigator by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. When not on the job, Chief Kaiser, and his wife Dina, donate their time to promote several charitable organizations that serve families of fallen law enforcement officers as well as police officers who are diagnosed with cancer and other life threatening health issues.