Former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart spoke at a rally today in front of the U.S. Capitol and called for lawmakers to renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides health care treatment for 9/11 first responders.
New York Magazine noted on Sept. 11 that Stewart fought to get the bill passed in 2010, but it is due to run out and the bill's reauthorization hasn't been brought up for a vote by the GOP-controlled Congress.
Stewart made his remarks today while standing next to law enforcement and New York congressional reps, notes CBS News.
Stewart told the first responders:
I want to apologize to all of the men and women, the first responders, that you had to come down here today. I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed for our country. I'm embarrassed for New York.
I'm embarrassed that you, after serving so selflessly with such heroism have to come down here and convince people to do what's right for the illnesses and difficulties that you suffered because of your heroism and because of your selflessness.
According to The Hill, Stewart told the media before a Democratic caucus meeting, "Hopefully we'll get some momentum, we'll get this done, and hopefully we won't have to drag first responders with stage four cancer down to Washington every five years to beg for medicine because it's embarrassing."
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told journalists today, "We do plan to extend the program."
Republicans in the U.S. Senate originally blocked the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (also known as the 9/11 health bill), reported The New York Times in December 2010, but it was passed after Democrats agreed to a $2 billion budget reduction in the bill that Republicans wanted, noted CNN.