Though his Daily Show days are barely behind him, Jon Stewart has already embarked on his next political crusade by continuing to advocate for the health benefits of 9/11 first responders. This year marks the 14th anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11; next week, Stewart will head to Washington, D.C. in the role of ad-hoc lobbyist to advocate for the permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2011 and is set to expire at the end of the month, reported The Daily Beast. The current legislation effectively established the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides treatment for the illnesses 9/11 first responders and survivors have endured.
Stewart’s pilgrimage follows a June House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee hearing on the extension of the bill, which saw the halls of Congress crowded with 9/11 first responders, anxious about the prospect of losing healthcare funding. Next week, Stewart, who will be joined by nearly 100 9/11 first responders, will to try to bring attention to the prospect of extending the bill permanently, and to prevent the need for 9/11 first responders and survivors to have to repeatedly, in Stewart’s words, “plop down to Washington…to be their own best advocates to the people of the government who should be the ones advocating for them.”
In December 2010, Stewart notably dedicated the year’s final segment—as well as much of the season—of The Daily Show to a plea for the passage of the bill, which was authored by Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and eventually passed with significant bipartisan support. In recent years, sequestration budget cuts have threatened revenue specifically allocated for 9/11 first responders by the Zadroga bill, some of which were redirected to pay down the national deficit.
Hannah Vaitsblit is an intern at Tablet.