Sunday, August 2, 2015

Jon Stewart Crusading for Sept. 11 First Responders.

Jon Stewart’s next act: Lobbyist? 
The host has promised to fight for a 9/11 bill in September.

Jon Stewart is less than a week away from retiring from The Daily Show, but he’s already thinking about his next act: crusading this fall in Washington for the Sept. 11 first responders.

The Comedy Central star has promised to make a Capitol Hill trip as early as September to support a bill extending an expiring law that provides billions of dollars in medical health benefits for the police, firefighters and other emergency rescue workers who spent time at Ground Zero, as well as survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Stewart committed to lobby the very lawmakers he’s made a career out of skewering during a backstage greenroom chat early in July with John Feal, an Army veteran and post-9/11 cleanup worker who is spearheading the advocacy push for the legislation. Feal told POLITICO that he expected Stewart to firm up the date for the visit after his final Daily Show appearance on Thursday.

“Everything he’s ever said, he’s kept his word,” Feal said.

The first-responders portion of the law, passed in 2010, is scheduled to expire this October but has enough money to run into next year. A separate fund for 9/11 survivors and first responders ends in October 2016. Supporters want to renew the whole law in perpetuity, like the health programs for coal miners who suffer from black lung disease, and the government workers and contractors who built the country's nuclear weapon arsenal. In early July on his program, Stewart called it “bullshit” that the 9/11 first responders even have to lobby to extend it, and demanded to know who on the Hill was blocking the effort.

In his 16-year TV career, Stewart has put his shoulder behind a number of policy and political issues. He has put the spotlight on bureaucratic blunders preventing military veterans from getting health care, and is widely credited with CNN’s decision more than a decade ago to cancel an earlier version of the ‘Crossfire' talk show. Sensing his power with young voters, senior White House aides also cultivated relationships with Stewart and his staff, and the host even met twice privately in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama.
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