Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will reportedly meet with 9/11 first responders this week. This move follows backlash from advocates including comedian Jon Stewart over the September 11th Victims Fund.
John Feal, a first responder who lost part of his foot in a Ground Zero mishap and who later founded the FealGood Foundation, told The New York Post that McConnell agreed to meet with advocates of the fund Tuesday.
“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 New York Post.
McConnell’s office did not respond to the New York Post’s request for comment.
Stewart specifically challenged McConnell, who he said has used the bill as a bargaining chip in the past and has never dealt with the issue compassionately.
McConnell dismissed Stewart’s accusations, saying, “I don’t know how many times I can say: We’ve never left the 9/11 victims behind, and we won’t again.”
Stewart is pushing for a bill that would expand funding for first responders through 2090. Without passing a new bill, funding will likely run out this year.
Feal also told the New York Post that President Trump could push McConnell and other Republicans “to get on board.”
Trump said on Sunday in an interview on NBC’s Meet The Press he was “very impressed” by Stewart’s testimony earlier this month, but did not go so far as to say if he’d direct McConnell to ensure the bill is passed, according to the New York Post.
Earlier this month Stewart advocated for the bill alongside first responders at a House subcommittee hearing. He shared an emotional testimony where he condemned representatives for skipping.
“Your indifference costs these men and women their most valuable commodity: time. It’s the one thing they’re running out of,” he said at the time.