Jon Stewart will soon return from TV “retirement” for Apple TV+, but since leaving The Daily Show, he’s spent a great deal of his time fighting for 9/11 first responders who have suffered lifelong health repercussions. He ripped into members of Congress who failed to show up for related hearings. And in the above 2019 photo, Stewart celebrated when the U.S. Senate voted to renew permanent authorization of September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. On this year’s 9/11 anniversary, the New York Daily News reported that the Trump Administration had raided/withheld money from a fund championed by Stewart to the tune of $4 million. Yes, these funds were siphoned from the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, and CNN now reports that these funds have miraculously been re-funded by the Treasury Department.
The timing of this move, less than a week before the election, is curious, to say the least. The president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association confirmed the re-funding to CNN, which relays a statement from a Treasury Department spokesperson:
“This nation owes a profound debt of gratitude to the 9/11 first responders. This Administration is committed to supporting the heroes of 9/11 and we are pleased this matter has been successfully resolved.”
In response, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued pointed remarks that indicate how the city will keep their eye on the funds going forward:
“The Trump administration should have never held these funds hostage in the first place, and we are happy they realized their error. We will continue to monitor this progress to ensure funds are available for first responders without federal interference.”
This back-and-forth follows program director Dr. Davie Prezant detailing the funds’ disappearance to the NYDN while explaining that the program hadn’t even received a letter to explain the defunding. The pandemic, of course, complicated matters related to healthcare for first responders, many of whom suffer ongoing adverse effects after their time working at Ground Zero. Rep. Pete King also explained that he’d been waiting for a response from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and the White House had also ignored the NYDN‘s attempts to secure a comment. King declared that for “even $1 to be being held back is indefensible,” but all the funding has been put back into place now. Just like that, although those Trump supporters who were left waiting in the cold on Tuesday night still haven’t received an answer on that debacle.
(Via CNN & New York Daily News)