Jon Stewart recently returned to his former set on The Daily Show with the sole purpose of shining a light on the inactions of the United States Congress to provide 9/11 Responders with healthcare by extending the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act that had originally been introduced in 2006, but failed to pass into law. In late 2010, when a new version of the bill was put before Congress and was again on the brink of falling to the wayside, Jon Stewart raised awareness by dedicating an entire episode of The Daily Show to the cause. Six days after the episode aired, Congress approved a newer version of the bill that President Barack Obama signed into law effective January 2, 2011, with a 5-year limit.
H.R. 1786 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 14, 2015. It amends the Public Health Service Act to extend the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program Fund indefinitely. Eight months later, on the eve of the expiration of benefits, Congress still has failed to act.
Stewart labelled the US Congress as the #WorstResponders.
When you consider all the pressure WE receive about OUR response times, often from politicians, it is rather HYPOCRITICAL that the Reauthorization Act has been in the House of Representatives for EIGHT MONTHS with NO MOVEMENT.
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah welcomed Jon Steward on Monday night’s episode (12/7/15) to talk about this pressing matter. Just in case you have not seen the episode, here is the first segment:
With 67 Senators and 260 Representatives sponsoring the Reauthorization Act there should be no issue in passing it. Stewart explains the actual issue which is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who are unwilling to move forward for “purely political reasons“… which is exactly what Stewart illustrates in this second segment:
As you can see from the end of that segment, when Stewart attempts to re-assemble a panel of First Responders from a little over five years ago, 50% of them were too ill to make it and 25% have since passed on. The comparison is both chilling and mind numbing:
Whether you are police, fire, or EMS and whether or not you were there on 9/11/01 and the months afterward or not, the passage of this bill is important to you. When things go horribly wrong (recent examples being Paris and San Bernadino) it’s the First Responders who are there to take care of it. Usually during those times I often see this quote from Fred Rogers floating around:
So who then helps the helpers when they need the help? Who will help when they are no longer able to? H.R. 1786 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act needs to be passed. Failing to do so is sending a clear message to the helpers… we really don’t care about you although you do nothing but care for others.
Over time… when the need is great… it’s going to be harder to find the helpers. Eventually, there will come a point where there will be none left….