House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat whose district includes the World Trade Center site, said a 70 per cent cut - or any cut - in compensation to victims of 9/11 "is simply intolerable, and Congress must not allow it". More than 20,000 individuals have suffered or died from cancer, breathing problems and other ailments because of the trauma inflicted on 9/11.
Stewart testified before the House judiciary committee on Tuesday alongside first responders and victims, but only a handful of lawmakers appeared at the hearing, prompting a visibly angry Stewart to condemn their treatment of survivors.
Noting that behind him was a hearing room full of aging first responders who had made another trip to Washington to fight for health care funding, Stewart said, "This hearing should be flipped".
After a almost five-minute-long tirade against congresssional inaction on the issue, the audience in the hearing room gave the comedian a standing ovation.
"Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak - to no one", Stewart said of how few Congress members were present. "You should be ashamed of yourselves". "Accountability appears to not be something that occurs in this chamber".
Comedian Jon Stewart tells US lawmakers they should be ashamed of their treatment of 9/11 responders. "It's the one thing they're running out of". The $7.3 billion fund has paid about $5 billion to roughly 21,000 claimants.
"More of these men and woman are going to get sick and they're going to die, and I'm awfully exhausted of hearing this is a 'New York issue.' Al-Qaeda didn't shout 'death to Tribeca.' They attacked America", Stewart remarked.
"I'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I'm angry, and you should be, too, and they're all angry as well and they have every justification to be that way", he said. "Eighteen years later, do yours!" he shouted.
Stewart was preceded by Luis Alvarez, a retired New York City detective, who will go through his 69th round of chemotherapy due to complications from being at Ground Zero.
"This fund isn't a ticket to paradise, it's to provide our families with care", said Alvarez.
Rep. Steven Cohen (D-Tenn.) took issue with Stewart's criticism, saying that a significant number of lawmakers had showed for a smaller subcommittee hearing. "Well, I'm here to make sure that you don't", Alvarez said to a room of loud applause.