WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a bill ensuring that a victims compensation fund for the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money.
The 402-12 vote sends the bill to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to call a vote before Congress goes on its August recess.
Lawmakers from both parties hailed the House vote, which comes a month after comedian Jon Stewart sharply criticized Congress for failing to act. Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders, told lawmakers at an emotional hearing that they were showing “disrespect” to first responders now suffering from respiratory ailments and other illnesses as a result of their recovery work at the former World Trade Center site in New York City.
Stewart called the sparse attendance at the June 11 hearing “an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution.” He later targeted McConnell for slow-walking previous version of the legislation and using it as a political pawn to get other things done.
Stewart said Friday that replenishing the victims fund was “necessary, urgent and morally right.”
Replenishing the fund will not fix the health problems of emergency workers and their families, but it would remove “a 15-year, unnecessary burden placed by their own government upon them,” Stewart said at a Capitol news conference.
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