Comedian Jon Stewart ripped Mitch McConnell during a late-night appearance Monday after the senate majority leader had said Stewart was "bent out of shape" in how he's advocated for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
The former host of "The Daily Show" stopped by his old correspondent and long-time friend Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" to continue to push for Congress to extend the relief for 9/11 first responders. The appearance followed Stewart's impassioned testimony before a congressional subcommittee a week ago that went viral.
McConnell had said on Fox News earlier Monday morning, "we'll get to it when we get to it."
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"You really want to go with the 'we'll get to it when we get to it' argument for the heroes of 9/11?" Stewart said.
Stewart, who's been advocating for the 9/11 first responders for a long time, traveled to the nation's capital last Tuesday with what he called "sick and dying" first responders and their families, only to find several empty seats on the dais.
An angry Stewart said at the hearing that the absenteeism of lawmakers during the discussion about extending benefits for the next 70 years was "an embarrassment to the country and a stain on the institution." He went on to say that lawmaker absences were "utterly unacceptable" and a "disrespect" to the heroes who are now suffering from respiratory diseases and other illnesses.
After the collapse of World Trade Center towers in September 2001, a cloud of thick dust billowed over Lower Manhattan. In the following months, police officers, firefighters, construction workers and others were exposed to toxic chemicals without the adequate protection while working at the site.
In the years since, many have seen their health decline and develop diseases like cancer. More than 40,000 of these first responders have applied to the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund but 21,000 claims are still pending.
Sen. McConnell, when asked on "Fox & Friends" about why the vote on this legislation has yet to pass, said they have "never failed to address this issue." He said he didn't know why Stewart was "all bent out of shape."
McConnell was also asked why so few members of Congress showed up to the hearing. "That frequently happens because members have a lot of things going on at the same time," he answered. "He [Stewart] is looking for some way to take offense."
On Colbert's show Monday, a still upset Stewart said that, if anything, he's only "bent out of shape" for the responders and that he "didn't mean to interrupt them with their jobs."
"They're currently still suffering and dying and still in terrible need," Stewart said. "You'd think that'd be enough to get Congress' attention, but apparently is not."
Stewart criticized McConnell for supporting the 9/11 community only when they serve his "political purposes." But when they need help McConnell opts to "slow-walk," "dither," and use the cause as a "political pawn," Stewart said.
The comedian and a group of 9/11 first responders spent a year compiling bipartisan cosponsors and advocates, he said. He urged McConnell to meet with group on Tuesday and "pass this thing as a stand-alone bill."
Stewart closed by saying that "the next time we have a war or you're being robbed, or your house is on fire, and you make that desperate call for help, don't get bent out of shape if they show up at the last minute, with fewer people than you thought."