In the tumult of the Republican Party’s incessantly one-sided agenda, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund has fallen by the wayside. The government assistance to those forever physically impacted by participating in rescue efforts surrounding the 9/11 terror attacks is slated to expire in coming months, and as of early this Thursday, there’s still no confirmation from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that he will even host a vote on legislation to extend that funding. In what he called his final interview, 9/11 first responder Louis Alvarez demanded that Congress “do the right thing” and extend the assistance. After testifying in recent days towards that same end, he’s ended up in hospice care, and spoke with Fox News’ Shepard Smith from his room.
‘We did the right thing when we went down there. Now it’s the government’s turn to do the right thing by us… We need this bill passed. It’s got to be passed quickly and efficiently so we never have to come down to Washington again and lobby… It’s my job as an NYPD detective to respond to emergencies. I’m nobody special. I did what all the other guys did. Now we’re paying the price for it.’
Alvarez discovered that his liver was failing during what would have been his 69th round of chemotherapy last week, shortly after he appeared in Congress alongside other 9/11 first responders and prominent political figure Jon Stewart, who amplified the demand from those he was with that Congress act. The very next day, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed legislation to extend the financial assistance to 9/11 first responders through 2090, and a vote in the full House is expected soon, where it’s likely to pass.
However, McConnell has dragged his feet — again. Back in 2015, when McConnell was also Senate Majority Leader, an extension for the fund was slashed from a funding package and Democrats accused the long-serving Republican of attempting to hold it as leverage to try and pressure them to support opening up opportunities for oil exports. Eventually — after Stewart went after McConnell on The Daily Show and some 9/11 first responders went to McConnell’s office in protest — the extension that is about to expire got added in.
Ignoring that history, McConnell told reporters following Stewart’s latest public advocacy that he doesn’t know why the comedian and activist is “all bent out of shape,” which he responded to incredulously, sharing bluntly:
‘I’m bent out of shape for them. These are the first heroes and veterans and victims of the great trillions of dollars war on terror.’
McConnell could help diffuse the tension that he’s so adamantly trying to avoid by pledging to bring an extension of the assistance up for a vote, but again, he has not done so as of Thursday. The issue has emerged as a likely fight over all government funding looms on the horizon, considering Democrats remaining the majority in the House and a powerful minority in the Senate and Trump continuing to push for funding for his long-sought southern border wall, among other things.
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