The law was approved over the objections of congressional Republicans five years ago, allocating billions of dollars for affected Americans, but now it needs to be reauthorized -- and it faces the real prospect of Congress simply letting the law wither on the vine. The portion of the law that provides medical treatment expires next month, and the section related to compensation expires soon after.
Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart joined several dozen 9/11 first responders on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to push Congress to pass a permanent extension of a bill to compensate those who became sick after working at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. [...] "I'm embarrassed for our country, for New York, that you after serving so selflessly have to come down here and convince people to do what's right," Stewart said looking at the crowd filled with firefighters and police officers who are suffering from illnesses caused from helping at Ground Zero after the attacks 14 years ago.
"The idea that [9/11 first responders] with cancer, we have to bring them down here every five years to beg for the benefits, it's the least we can do," Stewart told NBC News. "It's literally the least that we can do. That they don't have to be insecure about the medicine they are going to need to treat illnesses."
Despite the looming deadlines, Republican-leaders have not made the reauthorization a priority, perhaps because the vast majority of the bill's co-sponsors in the House
That said, it looks like Stewart, who was instrumental in helping boost the Democratic effort in 2010, may have given the bill another boost today. National Journal reported
There may already be some movement on the issue. Asked Wednesday whether the program should be extended and whether that could be part of a continuing resolution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “I’m going to be meeting with first responders later today myself, and we do plan to extend the program and the committees of jurisdiction in the House and the Senate are actually working on the details now.” The exact details of what McConnell is proposing remain unclear, but New York Sen. Chuck Schumer responded: “That is great news at last.”
This is, for the record, the first time McConnell has publicly committed to action on the Zadroga 9/11 bill.
The GOP Senate leader voted against
the legislation when it came up five years ago.