Jon Stewart to lobby D.C. for 9/11 health benefits extension

Dan Friedman New York Daily News

WASHINGTON — Jon Stewart will join hundreds of first responders lobbying Congress to extend an expiring law giving health benefits to people sickened in the wake of the 9/11 attack, backers of the bill said Tuesday.

Stewart, credited with using his “The Daily Show” to help push Congress to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act five years ago, will join New York lawmakers using the 14th anniversary of the September 11 attack to press Congress to permanently extend the legislation.

The law provides compensation and health coverage to firefighters, cops and thousands of other Americans suffering from an array of health ailments tied to air they breathed while working or living near Ground Zero after the attack.

Without Congress acting, the Zadroga law will expire next year, leaving former first responders who fall sick without the program’s coverage.

“We have to create a sense of urgency,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in an interview Tuesday.

EVERY STATE HAS PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM 9/11 ILLNESSES

“9/11 heroes are coming back to Washington, but they really shouldn’t have to, and that is what is so frustrated [sic],” Gillibrand said.

Legislation extending the legislation faces no public opposition, but many Republicans want to enact spending cuts to offset the cost of the program and to limit the duration of an extension.

Gillibrand said she hopes renewing the bill will be a presidential issue in 2016.

But while Democratic presidential candidates all support extending the measure, just two of the Republican hopefuls, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, so far have said they back an extension.

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