Last night the Senate voted to pass a bill which would fund the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for decades, permanently compensating those who were injured in the heinous terror attack of 2001, a move which comedian Jon Stewart had been publicly backing for months.
Stewart, along with surviving first responders from the attack, including John Feal, all worked tirelessly to push Congress to pass the extension before the money ran out and the fund expired in 2020. As soon as it became clear the bill would pass by a huge majority, the first responders and Stewart all stood up and clapped in the gallery above the Senate, CNN reports.
But before the vote took place, a magic moment was captured on camera as Stewart stood in the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol, just as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell walked past.
.@McConnellPress walks past Jon Stewart at the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol. The Senate will be voting later today on HR 1327: Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. pic.twitter.com/bZ0FaOhTSl
— Bill Clark (@billclarkphotos) July 23, 2019
Last month, Stewart appeared on The Late Show to directly address McConnell in urging him to ‘do his job’ and meet with the first responders and get the bill passed as a standalone. Stewart made an emotional speech before Congress and the bill went up for full House vote, where it was blocked in the Senate by Republican senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee.
Of course, Stewart called out Paul and Lee, alongside Feal, calling them ‘scallywags’ and ‘ragamuffins’, but he’s yet to receive any response from McConnell.
You can watch the CNN interview with Stewart and Feal here:
That’s why this picture, taken beautifully by photo-journalist Bill Clark is so incredible, perfectly captures Stewart’s smirk, as McConnell walks into the building, presumably with zero acknowledgement.
We can only assume Stewart’s face went from a smirk to a huge grin after the bill was passed by 97-2 on Tuesday.
Speaking to CNN after the bill was passed, Feal said:
For tens of thousands of people that are waiting to hear the outcome of this, my heart bleeds with joy, knowing that so many people are going to get help.
Everything we asked for, we got.
Feal has dedicated 15 years to helping support survivors and the passing of this bill, explaining it would allow him to ‘physically and mentally heal.’
The new bill will see the compensation fund extended until 2090 and cost whatever is deemed. It’s estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost around $10 billion over the next 10 years.
Last week, Rand Paul delayed the passing of the bill, criticising Congress for not offsetting its cost by cutting government spending elsewhere. He and Mike Lee were the only senators to vote against the bill.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.