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August 25, 2019

Judiciary Committee vote on 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund expected on Wednesday

June 12, 2019
Former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart (R) speaks with US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (C), D-NY, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (2nd R), D-NY, and 9/11 first responders, survivors and their families during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on February 25, 2019, to discuss the introduction of the bipartisan “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act” and to call for its swift passage. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The prospect of Jon Stewart and a phalanx of 9/11 responders descending on Capitol Hill Tuesday to testify for a new 9/11 bill is paying off — the House Judiciary Committee is planning to vote on that bill Wednesday, the Daily News has learned.

At stake is the expiring 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which is running out of money and has had to slash payouts to ailing responders and survivors by more than half.

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Stewart and numerous responders and other officials are making the case for extending that fund Tuesday in a high profile hearing before the Judiciary Committee, hoping to build on work they have been doing more quietly for months, visiting the offices of hundreds of members of Congress.

“I think the efforts of Jon Stewart, the responders and survivors who have been working the halls are all coming to fruition,” said Ben Chevat, the head of 9/11 advocacy group Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act. “I think that there’s just general acceptance from Democrats and Republicans that this has to get done and it is getting done.”

Stewart’s testimony is sure to attract the cameras, but the bigger moment for the legislation will be Wednesday’s markup in the House Judiciary Committee, where members will get a chance to make changes or raise objections to the legislation.

If it goes well, as sources tell the News they think it will, it would send a message that Congress can still function in a bipartisan fashion, and in fact may be functioning better than it ever has when it comes to 9/11 responders. Previous bills have faced daunting obstacles in getting passed.

In this file photo, Comedian Jon Stewart (C) talks with first responders while visiting the U.S. Capitol to demand that Congress extend the Zadroga 9/11 health bill September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC.
In this file photo, Comedian Jon Stewart (C) talks with first responders while visiting the U.S. Capitol to demand that Congress extend the Zadroga 9/11 health bill September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The very same committee, headed by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) has increasingly been at odds over President Trump and the prospect of impeaching him. Yet Nadler and the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) are both sponsors of the new 9/11 bill.

“The Sept. 11 attacks happened nearly two decades ago, but that must feel like yesterday to the heroes who gave up their safety and health to rescue victims,” said Collins. “Congress must ensure these Sept. 11 heroes receive the care they deserve. This program mitigates the damage first responders and their families have experienced as a direct result of their sacrifice on behalf of others.”

“This markup is a another sign that even with all the disagreements over everything else in Congress, these people actually can remember 9/11,” said Chevat.

Exactly how strong of a sign will become clear Wednesday.

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