Jon Stewart has largely stayed out of the public eye since stepping down from The Daily Show in 2015. But he hasn’t been shy about advocating for 9/11 survivors and first responders, many of whom are still sick and injured nearly 20 years after the terror attack. On Tuesday, Stewart testified before the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on reauthorizing the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
He tore Congress a new one.
“As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process of what getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,” he began. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak — to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and it’s a shame on this institution.”
Battling back tears, Stewart spoke for nearly 10 minutes. “It would be one thing if their callous indifference and rank hypocrisy were benign, but it’s not,” Stewart said. “Your indifference costs these men and women their most valuable commodity: time. It’s the one thing they’re running out of.”
“They responded in five seconds,” Stewart concluded. “They did their jobs, with courage, grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later — do yours! Thank you.”
He received a standing ovation.