Jon Stewart, the popular former host of the late-night comedy program The Daily Show, criticised members of Congress for not attending a hearing on Tuesday on renewing funding for a program that provides health care to first responders who were sickened responding to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The video of a passionate Stewart criticising the lawmakers for staying away from the hearing has since gone viral.
“Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress,” he said.
“Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak and no one,” Stewart said, pointing to a mostly empty dais. “Shameful, it’s an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution. You should be ashamed of yourselves for those who aren’t here but you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”
“There is not a person here, there is not an empty chair on that stage, that didn’t tweet out, ‘Never forget the heroes of 9/11,’ ” Stewart said. “Well, here they are! And where are they?”
He also pointed out that the responders had all travelled long distances to attend the hearing.
“Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity — time!” he said, adding, “it’s the one thing they’re running out of.”
“More of these men and women are going to get sick and they’re going to die, and I’m awfully tired of hearing this is a ‘New York issue,’” Stewart said. “Al-Qaeda didn’t shout ‘death to Tribeca.’ They attacked America.”
Stewart received a standing ovation at the end of his remarks.
Watch the video