Jon Stewart To Lobby Congress For 9/11 First Responders Health Care

Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart is heading to Congress next week to help convince Congressional lawmakers to renew a health care bill for September 11 first responders.

Stewart is set to ask Congress to renew a bill supporting The World Trade Center Health Program, which monitors some 33,000 people and the health care issues related to their work at ground zero, according to Time.

Established in 2010, the health care bill is set to expire next month, 14 years after the attack on the World Trade Center.

Many of the fire fighters and police officers along with thousands of others who worked and lived near ground zero after the attacks suffer from cancer, respiratory illnesses, digestive disorders, and mental health conditions along with secondary ailments.

Stewart will join 100 September 11 first responders along with Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand and other New York lawmakers in asking Congress to permanently extend the James Zadroga September 11 Health and Compensation Act.

Gillibrand told the New York Daily News that although the September 11 health care bill faces no political opposition, Congressional Republicans are trying to limit the amount of time for the extension and enact spending cuts to offset the program’s cost. Gillibrand said she hopes the bill will be an important issue in the 2016 presidential race.

“We have to create a sense of urgency. 9/11 heroes are coming back to Washington, but they really shouldn’t have to, and that is what is so frustrated.”

Every Democratic presidential candidate has come out in favor of the health care bill, but only two Republicans have thrown their support behind it: Gov. George Pataki and Gov. Rick Perry, according to the New York Daily News.

Jeb Bush will not be at the Capitol building with the September 11 heroes next week, but will instead be out fundraising in Manhattan.

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Lindsey Graham haven’t come out either way on the bill.

Stewart helped convince Congressional lawmakers to enact the September 11 health care bill in 2010 by inviting four September 11 first responders onto the Daily Show in December. During that memorable show, Stewart called out Congressional lawmakers for failing to pass the $1.6 billion health care bill and asked first responders to tell their survival stories.

In order to ensure the original September 11 health care bill’s passage, supporters had to compromise on $4.3 billion funding for five years. If the extension doesn’t pass, compensation will stop flowing to beneficiaries October, 2016.

[Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central]