9/11 first responder says Congress 'continues to fail us'

9/11 responder John Feal shares how he feels after comedian and activist Jon Stewart slammed Congress during a hearing for reauthorizing the 9/11 victim compensation fund.

Posted: Jun 12, 2019 8:22 AM
Updated: Jun 12, 2019 11:45 AM


Two 9/11 first responders called on Congress Wednesday to support additional funding for aid workers, a day after comedian Jon Stewart delivered an impassioned plea to lawmakers to reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

'He painted a landscape to let America know that over 95,000 people in the World Trade Center health program that are being treated across our great nation are being forgotten by our federal government, by Congress, a dysfunctional body of work who continues to fail us,' one of the first responders, John Feal, said on CNN's 'New Day' with John Berman.

Feal said before the hearing began on Tuesday he approached Stewart and pointed out what he said was apparent disinterest from some in the room, which helped prime Stewart for the moment when he said the comedian and longtime advocate for the responders 'articulated our pain and suffering.'

'I said, 'Can you see this one, he's falling asleep,'' Feal said. 'I said, 'Do you see this one, he's on his cell phone.' I said it is disrespectful to those who came down here with cancer, that we're sitting here and they're not taking this serious enough.'

Feal described Stewart as a 'dear friend' with whom he worked a lot, and that his whispered observation to Stewart about the hearing, along with presenting Stewart with an autographed jacket, put Stewart in the right emotional place for his impassioned speech.

'I know how Jon ticks,' Feal said. 'I know what the 9/11 community means to this man, and I knew he would be an emotional wreck by the time he got to the guys with the jacket.'

In the interview, Feal praised House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, and said GOP leadership and the Senate had been obstacles in past authorization pushes.

The committee is scheduled to mark up a bill to reauthorize the 9/11 compensation fund on Wednesday. The current law was renewed in 2015 and is set to expire in 2020. At the time of its last renewal, Congress appropriated $4.6 billion to the fund, bringing the total appropriated amount of the fund over the years to $7.4 billion.

The fund's administrator announced in February that there was insufficient funding to pay all claims. The fund has seen a significant rise in claims in the past two years -- over 24,000 claims in 2017, 2018 and January 2019. That's more claims than in the first five years of the fund combined -- when only 19,000 claims were filed.

The new bill would extend the expiration to 2090. It does not call for a specific amount of funds but whatever sums necessary through 2090.

As Feal noted, the aftermath of the destruction from the 9/11 attacks has led to severe health impacts on first responders and recovery workers, including lung impairment and cancer, with thousands of death and injury claims.

Brian McGuire, another 9/11 first responder, told CNN that what he heard at the hearing was 'heartbreaking' and said just recently, several 9/11 responders and recovery workers had died.

'We're fighting for those who can't be here, to voice their own help in their cause because they are too sick and they are dying,' McGuire said.

Stewart said in the hearing that those not present at the hearing should be 'ashamed,' and he told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux after that Congress needs to fund the aid 'indefinitely for the lives of these men and women and not for five years.'

'We've all been through this too many times to not be skeptical,' Stewart said. 'When it happens, then we'll believe it, but trust me, it's not going to be a celebration, it's just going to be a sigh.'

Huntsville/Redstone
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 45°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 45°
Huntsville/Madison
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 39°
Decatur
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 42°
Fort Payne
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 498076

Reported Deaths: 10094
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson716711387
Mobile36294737
Madison32616468
Tuscaloosa24340421
Montgomery22739519
Shelby22174218
Baldwin19873289
Lee15039157
Calhoun13832293
Morgan13753254
Etowah13390325
Marshall11448211
Houston10124264
Elmore9483190
Limestone9420138
St. Clair9022227
Cullman8984182
Lauderdale8612214
DeKalb8489175
Talladega7606165
Walker6585259
Jackson6545104
Autauga632492
Blount6236127
Colbert6001121
Coffee5264103
Dale4671107
Russell406933
Franklin399878
Covington3993106
Chilton3898103
Escambia379173
Tallapoosa3622143
Clarke344053
Chambers3431111
Dallas3422142
Pike293373
Marion288695
Lawrence284985
Winston258368
Bibb246160
Geneva240370
Marengo238857
Pickens225457
Barbour213651
Hale212269
Fayette202057
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178039
Monroe166739
Randolph164840
Washington156836
Macon147745
Crenshaw146255
Clay145954
Cleburne139841
Lamar133733
Lowndes132751
Wilcox122925
Bullock117336
Conecuh107024
Perry106127
Sumter99732
Coosa90224
Greene88532
Choctaw55323
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 779449

Reported Deaths: 11501
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby876181509
Davidson81809871
Knox46250587
Hamilton40539463
Rutherford38563386
Williamson25382204
Sumner21448318
Montgomery17484213
Out of TN1706694
Wilson16510211
Unassigned15772127
Sullivan14431274
Blount14141183
Bradley12996141
Washington12818234
Maury12246163
Sevier12109164
Putnam10635170
Madison10123230
Robertson8997121
Hamblen8063165
Anderson8044158
Greene7309145
Tipton6962103
Coffee6418115
Dickson6256106
Gibson6196141
Cumberland6127122
Carter5990155
McMinn594592
Roane592696
Bedford5816120
Loudon571966
Jefferson5688119
Lawrence557483
Monroe536590
Warren532576
Hawkins527195
Dyer5242101
Franklin475785
Fayette468372
Obion436995
Lincoln415662
Rhea415273
Cocke401295
Cheatham394544
Marshall391956
Campbell381859
Weakley379359
Giles375297
Henderson362273
Carroll349181
White339366
Hardeman338864
Macon337273
Hardin331563
Lauderdale309642
Henry301275
Marion294744
Scott288144
Wayne287630
Overton285557
Claiborne283069
McNairy268353
Hickman266541
DeKalb266151
Haywood264960
Smith256936
Grainger244246
Trousdale239822
Morgan230338
Fentress229544
Johnson217138
Chester202348
Bledsoe201010
Crockett197547
Unicoi181447
Polk177722
Cannon176730
Union173033
Grundy169730
Lake167926
Sequatchie157327
Humphreys154921
Decatur153837
Benton151039
Lewis147425
Meigs126722
Jackson125634
Stewart124025
Clay107130
Houston103632
Perry103527
Moore94516
Van Buren79720
Pickett74623
Hancock49712

Community Events