Mitch McConnell to meet with 9/11 first responders after public shaming from comedian Jon Stewart

Attack victims finally have a meeting with McConnell over delays in reauthorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

By Matthew Rozsa
June 24, 2019 1:33PM (UTC)
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Getty/Win McNamee)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will meet with 9/11 first responders later this week after being publicly shamed by Jon Stewart over delays in reauthorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

John Feal, the founder of the FealGood Foundation and a recovery worker from Ground Zero who lost his left foot in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, told the New York Post that members of McConnell's staff have agreed the top Senate Republican would meet with "myself and a couple of team leaders" Tuesday afternoon. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss reauthorizing the 9/11 victims fund, which McConnell has been accused of delaying for political purposes.


"Listen, we come in peace. But we also — we’re prepared for anything — whether it’s a street fight or Mitch McConnell saying, 'Yes,'" Feal told the Post.

He added, "The president can just come out today with a tweet and tell every Republican senator to get on board, because they all fear him. The president wraps his arms around law enforcement, military, firefighters. Here’s the perfect chance for him to do that while he’s getting ready for a re-election bid."

Feal may have been referencing the president's recent comments about the controversy to "Meet the Press," in which he told NBC's Chuck Todd, "I liked what Jon Stewart did. I actually did, and I actually have a meeting on that subject next week. So we’ll see what happens."


McConnell has received considerable flak ever since a speech by former talk show host Jon Stewart went viral earlier this month. When speaking to Fox News' Chris Wallace about his remarks, Stewart said that McConnell "has been the white whale of this since 2010. In 2010, and this brings up something, because I think it's the cynicism that's displayed by Washington that also causes this situation to be so emotional. They asked Mitch McConnell about the testimony after it was done, and he said, 'Oh, gosh'— I think he used the word 'gosh' — 'gosh, we haven't looked at that in a while, but we will look at it, and I'm sure we'll deal with it as compassionately as we have in the past.'"

Stewart added, "This has never been dealt with compassionately by Sen. McConnell. He has always held out until the very last minute, and only then under intense lobbying and public shaming has he even deigned to move on it." He then gave examples of how McConnell had delayed reauthorization of the fund in order to advance bills on matters such as oil imports and tax cuts.

McConnell later addressed Stewart's criticisms by claiming he did not know why Stewart was "all bent out of shape." 


"We have never failed to address this issue, and we will address it again. I don't know why he's all bent out of shape, but we will take care of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund," McConnell told "Fox & Friends" following Stewart's remarks.

He continued, "It sounds to me like he's looking for some way to take offense. There's no way that we won't address this problem appropriately. We have in the past, and we will again in the future."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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9/11 First Responders All Salon Jon Stewart Mitch Mcconnell News & Politics