WASHINGTON -- Jon Stewart isn't letting up in his effort to convince lawmakers to pass a new 9/11 bill after his visit to Congress last week -- the former host of "The Daily Show" returns to the broadcast Monday night to put an exclamation point on his trip to D.C.
Stewart and a group of 9/11 responders on Thursday toured the halls of the Capitol and visited the offices of senators in hopes of spurring them to pass a permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which began expiring in September.
They cornered one -- Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) -- and convinced him to sign on to a permanent bill. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised first responder advocate John Feal that a version of the bill would be attached to the government funding bill being worked on this week, although a similar pledge on paying for the measure was not offered.
Stewart said Thursday he simply didn't understand the reluctance of congressional leaders to pass a new bill, especially McConnell, who backed similar treatment programs for nuclear and coal workers.
"Honestly, if there were some sort of principled, pious reason, if he could say to me, 'Oh, we just don't do those types of bills, even for an exceptional case like 9/11,' I guess I would at least have to respect whatever principle, however ignorant I may find it to be," Stewart told HuffPost. "But that's not the case."
As Stewart was wrapping up his visit Thursday, he polled the responders with him, asking if any of them had heard any convincing rationale for stalling on their bill, which has support from large majorities of lawmakers in both chambers of Congress.
They shook their heads no.
For Stewart, delaying a measure to help first responders makes no sense, especially as mass shootings and terror attacks have shown with alarming frequency how much the country depends on their selfless sacrifices.
"We're seeing, from everything going on in the world, just how important the first responders are in this country," Stewart said, adding that his trip to Senate offices was "a visit with the last responders, the worst responders."
And now he's taking the case to the public on his former show, much as he did in 2010, when four responders joined him for an entire episode.
It got the attention of lawmakers then. Odds are, this will, too.
The show announced his return on Twitter on Monday night:
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