Jon Stewart Just Won a Huge Battle With Congress

December 17th 2015

After lengthy negotiations, gnashing of teeth, the lobbying of Jon Stewart, and the public shaming of members of Congress, lawmakers reached an agreement over the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, a special fund dedicated to helping those who were exposed to toxic chemicals on 9/11.


The funding was confirmed when Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Congress' agreement on a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill on Tuesday night. Though the bill has not yet formally moved through Congress, it's considered a done deal given a deadline to fund the government. The 9/11 health care bill is part of that agreement.

What does this fund do?

The reauthorization sets aside $8.1 billion for those affected by 9/11; $3.5 billion will fund the World Trade Center Health Program until 2090, the Huffington Post reports. The World Trade Center Health Program will help 72,000 first responders and survivors of 9/11, over 30,000 of whom are battling ailments linked to exposure to toxic chemicals on September 11, 2001. The remaining $4.6 billion will go towards the 9/11 Victims Compensation Program.

The initial Zadroga Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011. It created the World Trade Center Health Program, but it expired in September of 2015.

Reauthorizing the Zadroga Act, which was named for New York police officer James Zadroga, who died of a 9/11-related illness in 2006, became the mission of many September 11 first responders, who traveled to Washington, D.C. more than 20 times during the last two months. Stewart also lent his voice, visiting the Capitol twice since September.


Stewart also took to television, lobbying for the bill on "The Late Show" and "The Daily Show."

This is not the first time Stewart has pushed to help first responders. In fact, the White House and others have credited Stewart for helping to get the bill through Congress back in 2010.

Now, the funding is guaranteed for 75 more years.

“This agreement is incredible news for our 9/11 heroes and their families," Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a statement, "and it is a testament to the extraordinary power that Americans can have when they raise their voice and demand action."

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