Jon Stewart rips lawmakers for not showing up to 9/11 responders hearing

Comedian Jon Stewart is scolding Congress for failing to ensure that a victims' compensation fund set up after the 9/11 attacks never runs out of money

Former "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart shamed members of a House panel Tuesday when only five lawmakers were seated in the rostrum to hear survivors of the September 11 terror attacks testify about the need to reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

"I can't help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting healthcare and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to", Stewart said.

"Shameful." The bill would reauthorize the fund, which is now running short on money, per CBS News.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties began hearing the legislation, which is slated to makes its way to the full committee for a vote on Wednesday.

A Congressional Judiciary subcommittee heard testimony today from 9/11 first responders today who have been largely ignored by the US government for almost two decades.

"There is not an empty chair on that stage", Stewart said, "that didn't tweet out 'Never forget the heroes of 9/11". The proud New Yorker has been lobbying on behalf of the 9/11 first responders for years and has made good friends who have since lost their battles with cancer. It is now running out of funding.

More than 40,000 people have applied to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks.

Stewart angrily called out lawmakers for failing to attend Tuesday's hearing on a bill that would ensure the fund can pay benefits for the next 70 years. "It's the one thing they're running out of". The fund has awarded more than $5 billion in compensation for more than 20,000 claims, but more than 17,000 claims are still being processed. He was joined by other advocates and politicians seeking the passage of a bill to provide more coverage. "Shameful, it's an embarrassment to this country and it is a stain on this institution", Stewart said.

Jimmy Kimmel, a popular comedian and host of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", praised Stewart on Twitter, writing: "thank you Jon Stewart, for making sure "never forget" isn't just a nice-sounding slogan".

When asked by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux later Tuesday whether Democrats, Republicans or the administration are at fault in the lack of funding, Stewart replied, "I don't want to get into it - Congress needs to fund us, and they need to fund us indefinitely for the lives of these men and women and not for five years". They did their jobs.

Fitzgerald says that it wasn't particularly important to him for the legislators to show respect by sitting in at the hearing. "Eighteen years later, do yours", Stewart told Congress.

In 2015 former US President Barack Obama reauthorised the fund, allowing people to continue submitting claims until December 2020. "That's not true. And we will respond, and we will see that it's funded".