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Jon Stewart Responds to Mitch McConnell’s Comments on 9/11 First Responder Funding: ‘Don’t Make Them Beg for It’

In a surprise appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," the former "Daily Show" host continued his efforts to get Congress to renew the Zadroga Act.

Jon Stewart Mitch McConnell Late Show Stephen Colbert

Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Jon Stewart’s testimony before a House Judiciary Committee last week stretched far beyond the physical walls of Congress. After the former “The Daily Show” host’s impassioned plea to renew federal funding for healthcare for 9/11 first responders, his speech reverberated through the political sphere, leading to coverage across news and entertainment outlets.

That coverage eventually looped back to one of Congress’ highest-ranking members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who went on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” program on Monday morning to respond to Stewart’s remarks. “I don’t know why he is all bent out of shape but we will take care of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund,” McConnell said, claiming that “many things in Congress happen at the last minute.”

That dismissal led to a segment on Monday night’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” with the regular host sharing the desk once again with Stewart, his old “Daily Show” colleague.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides for funding to assist police officers, firefighters, and other personnel facing adverse health effects after providing aid on and after September 11, 2001, is set to expire unless Congress takes direct action to renew it. So, as he’s done before in the past on Colbert’s show, Stewart took some airtime to address ongoing Congressional inactivity. This time, he specifically took issue with McConnell’s acceptance that moving slowly is par for the legislative branch course.

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“We’re saying, ‘You love the 9/11 community when they serve your political purposes, but when they’re in urgent need, you slow walk, you dither, you use it as a political pawn to get other things you want and you don’t get the job done completely,'” Stewart said.

Stewart once again repeated a point he made before last week’s committee, that this 9/11 first responder funding doesn’t have to be tied to any other piece of legislation that could be held up for unrelated political reasons. He also reiterated that the bill and the fund have achieved bipartisan support at numerous points.

“Meet with them tomorrow as soon as possible and don’t make them beg for it,” Stewart said. “You could pass this thing as a standalone bill tomorrow.”

Watch the full clip (including selections from Stewart’s own recent Fox News appearance) below:

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