McConnell to meet 9/11 responders to discuss victims’ fund

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is meeting this week with Sept. 11 first responders following withering criticism from comedian Jon Stewart that Congress had failed to ensure that a victims’ compensation fund never runs out of money.

A group of first responders will meet today with McConnell at the Capitol, said John Feal, a ground zero recovery worker and longtime activist on behalf of first responders.

The meeting comes as Stewart has blistered McConnell and other congressional leaders for what he calls a lack of urgency to replenish the victims’ fund, which was set up after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The $7 billion fund is being depleted and has cut benefit payments by up to 70 percent. A bill pending in Congress would ensure the fund can pay benefits for 70 years.

Stewart mocked McConnell on Stephen Colbert’s late-night talk show last week, accusing the GOP leader of slow-walking the legislation and using it as a political pawn to get other things done.

The former host of “The Daily Show” also scolded lawmakers who did not show up at a public hearing this month even as “sick and dying” first responders and their families came to Washington to testify in favor of the bill.

McConnell said last week that the issue will be addressed and that he does not know why Stewart was “all bent out of shape.”