In a “Fox News Sunday” interview, the comedian addressed his now-viral speech before House lawmakers during which he shamed congressional leaders for dragging their feet when it comes to permanently reauthorizing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Stewart took direct aim at McConnell during an interview with host Chris Wallace.
“In terms of getting the 9/11 bills passed, Mitch McConnell has been the white whale of this since 2010,” he said, referring to his alleged attempt to use previous reauthorization of the funding stream as leverage to accomplish separate GOP initiatives.
Stewart said Washington leaders’ “cynicism” was part of the reason the issue is fraught with emotion.
On Tuesday, the former “Daily Show” host spoke to House Judiciary Committee members at a hearing on the Victim Compensation Fund. In February, the fund’s administrator announced that it is running out of money “to pay all current and projected claims at the same levels as under current policies and procedures.”
The VCF “provides financial compensation for those who were physically injured or died as a result of an eligible 9/11-related illness,” according to its website. In some cases it may cover medical expenses for first responders who are sick and dying from illnesses believed to have been contracted as a result of the terror attacks. The separate World Trade Center Health Program is the primary line of coverage for medical claims.
Stewart used the opportunity to call out legislators for “delay after delay after delay of searching for some must-pass bill to tuck their issue into because this Congress, this Senate didn’t think it was important enough to pass on its own.”
“Let me tell you something: We are done with that,” he warned.
Though the committee unanimously approved the bill in a scheduled vote the next day, McConnell said he hadn’t spent much time considering the measure.
“Gosh, I hadn’t looked at that lately,” he said earlier in the day, according to NBC News. “I’ll have to. We’ve always dealt with that in a compassionate way, and I assume we will again.”
Stewart dismissed the response altogether.
“I want to make it clear that this has never been dealt with compassionately by Senator McConnell,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He has always held out to the very last minute, and only then, under intense lobbying and public shaming, has he even deigned to move on it.”
Before moving on to the Senate, the bill will need to pass a full House vote, which has been set for July, according to CBS New York.
CLARIFICATION: This article has been amended to clarify that the Victim Compensation Fund is not the primary fund for medical claims.