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Jon Stewart calls on Congress to step up

 Jon Stewart isn’t joking when it comes to getting the proper funding to help 9/11 responders and their families who continue to deal with the lingering damage from America’s most horrific terrorist attack.

The former “Daily Show” host told “America’s Newsroom” those still suffering for their heroic actions “deserve our attention.”

“We don’t want the 9/11 community and the first responders to have their issue be swept under the rug or be ignored,” Stewart said.

“These are men and women who have suffered great illnesses because of their heroic work down on ‘Ground Zero’ during 9/11 and during the months that passed and they deserve our attention.”

Stewart is in Washington, D.C. with John Feal, a 9/11 demolition supervisor, to support the “Never Forget the Heroes” Fund Act.

The bipartisan legislation would make sure that all first responders and survivors who were injured or are suffering illnesses from that day receive their full compensation.

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund announced earlier this month that they were running out of money and were cutting payments by as much as 50 and 70 percent.

“I’ve been to 181 funerals. The pain, the struggle, the fight is real,” Feal told co-host Sandra Smith.

“When this went into effect the conversations are, 'Now do I put gas in the car or do I put food on the table? Do I keep a roof over my head or do I pay the utilities?'

“This is real and this policy effect is devastating to the 9/11 community.”

“This has been a fight.  It’s not something they’re unaccustomed too but it’s something that I find… It’s unconscionable.  It cannot continue,” Stewart added.

“We cannot force the men and women that so heroically went down to ‘Ground Zero’ and stayed there for 9, 10 months disrupting their lives as well. We can’t force them to have to fight for this anymore.”

Both men took the opportunity to express to Congress that this was their opportunity to turn one of America’s horrific moments into a positive.

“Congress has a chance… I think Congress and the Senate need this more than anything to come together like we did 18 years ago,” Feal said.  “They can take our worst day, our worst weeks and our worst months. Especially our worst 18 years since and come together and make Congress’ finest hour.”

“This is a national embarrassment and crisis,” Stewart said.  “They’ve got to step up.”