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Jon Stewart returned to “The Daily Show” Monday night to call out Senate leaders for blocking the renewal of the 2010 Zadroga Act that funds health care for first responders injured or made ill by the 9/11 attacks.
In late October, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate to renew the 2010 Zadroga Act that created the World Trade Center Health Program, which expired in September and will run out of money by the end of this year. But Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has prevented the renewal bill from coming up for a vote.
Stewart called for a social-media campaign to shame lawmakers into renewing the 9/11 first-responders’ healthcare program using the hashtag #worstresponders.
In addition to the 60+ supermajority in the Senate, the House version Zadroga renewal bill is cosponsored by a majority of representatives, so the bill is guaranteed passage — if congressional leaders will allow a vote.
Stewart was widely credited with helping to rally the necessary votes for passage of the original Zadroga Act in 2010 by interviewing a panel of four 9/11 first-responders when the bill was struggling for support in Congress.
The former “Daily Show” host, returning as a guest to promote Zadroga’s renewal, underlined the need for the program by attempting to reconvene the same panel Monday night, but only one of the original panelists, Kenny Specht of the FDNY, was able to participate. Two of the original panelists were to ill to attend, and the fourth, John Devlin, had died.
The World Trade Center Health Program provides medical care to 33,000 first responders and survivors suffering from 9/11-related illnesses or injuries and provides medical monitoring for more than 72,000 others to screen for cancers and other diseases observed in the 9/11 population. The Zadroga Act is named for NYPD officer James Zadroga, who died from a respiratory disease cause by his recovery work at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.