Jon Stewart blasts Rand Paul for delaying vote
WASHINGTON – Comedian and advocate Jon Stewart blasted Sen. Rand Paul Wednesday hours after the Kentucky Republican delayed a vote after the Senate attempted to reauthorize a fund that compensates victims of 9/11.
“It’s absolutely outrageous, and you’ll pardon me if I’m not impressed in any way by Rand Paul’s fiscal responsibility virtue signaling,” Stewart, who has repeatedly advocated for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, said in an interview with Fox News.
“Rand Paul presented tissue paper avoidance of the $1.5 trillion tax cut that added hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit and now he stands up at the last minute, after 15 years of blood, sweat, and tears from the 9/11 community, to say that it’s all over now and we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community.”
More: Sen. Rand Paul delays attempt to reauthorize 9/11 first responder bill, cites cost as the reason
More: Luis Alvarez, former NYPD cop who advocated for 9/11 responders with Jon Stewart, dies
Paul objected to the projected cost of the bill that would reauthorize the compensation fund, which was created after 9/11 to help pay for medical and economic losses as a result of the terrorist attacks.
The estimated costs to pay the outstanding claims and future claims would be $10.2 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“Any new spending…should be offset by cutting spending that is less valuable. We need to at the very least have this debate,” Paul said on the Senate floor. “I will be offering an amendment if the bill should come to the floor but until then I will object.”
The House passed its version of the bill on July 12, with a 402-12 vote. House Republicans who voted against the bill at the time cited the legislation’s lack of a funding mechanism.
Stewart last month gave an impassioned speech during a hearing on Capitol Hill criticizing lawmakers for not passing the bill to reauthorize the fund sooner. Several 9/11 first responders also testified before congress at that time.
“It would be one thing if their callous indifference and rank hypocrisy were benign,” Stewart said in June before the House Judiciary Committee. “But it’s not. Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time….the one thing they’re running out of.”
Just weeks after that testimony, 9/11 first responder Luis Alvarez, who was at the hearing, died after years of battling cancer. He was 53 years old.
Stewart on Fox News also criticized Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who placed a procedural hold on the legislation, according to the New York Post.
“The people from the state of Kentucky and the people from the state of Utah deserve much better,” Stewart said of Paul and Lee.
“I think they lack humanity,” he concluded.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu
Like what you’re reading?: Download the USA TODAY app for more