Jon Stewart, the former Daily Show host, is rightfully furious about Congress not doing enough for 9/11 victims, and more specifically first responders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, isn’t buying Stewart’s tearful testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week.
Speaking at the committee’s hearing on “The Need to Reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund” last Tuesday, Stewart shamed members for failing to appear before the crowd of 9/11 first responders that he accompanied. While the fund ends in 2020, Stewart is advocating for the fund to extend to 2090, in anticipation of covering anyone who eventually becomes sick as a result of the attack.
In his testimony, Stewart invoked McConnell, calling him a “certain someone” who has previously used the fund as a “political football” to negotiate other spending bills. Following the hearing, reporters asked McConnell if he supported renewing the fund, to which McConnell said, “Gosh.”
“Gosh, I hadn’t looked at that lately. I’ll have to,” McConnell responded. “We’ve always dealt with that in the past in a compassionate way, and I assume we will again, but I haven’t looked at it lately.”
Stewart didn’t let McConnell’s halfhearted reply slide. Speaking to Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday, Stewart blamed McConnell for not making the compensation fund a priority in the Senate, claiming McConnell to be the “white whale” of getting the fund approved since 2010. Stewart went on to detail how McConnell used the fund as leverage for his own agenda in 2010 and 2015.
Stewart on McConnell, emphasis mine:
I think it’s the cynicism that’s displayed by Washington that also causes this situation to be so emotional. They asked Mitch McConnell about the testimony after it was done and he said, ‘gosh’—I think he used the word gosh. ‘Gosh, we haven’t looked at that in a while, but we will look at it and I’m sure we will deal with it as compassionately as we have in the past.’ But I want to make it clear that this has never been dealt with compassionately by Senator McConnell. He has always held out until the very last minute, and only then, under intense lobbying and public shaming, has he even deigned to move on it.
Asked on Fox & Friends the following morning why the vote on the fund always seemed to come at the last minute in previous years, McConnell told the show hosts that Congress will address the fund again, saying he didn’t know why Stewart was “all bent out of shape.” McConnell also excused the low turnout at the House committee hearing, saying that Stewart was “looking for some way to take offense,” and that the fund will be renewed.
Looking for a reason to be offended, that classic Republican clapback. I truly cannot wait for this feud from 2011 to continue forever.