McConnell meets with 9/11 first responders in wake of criticism over victims fund

Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is assembly Tuesday with 9/11 first responders, after he was sharply criticized by comic Jon Stewart earlier this month over his dealing with of a invoice that would supply them contemporary compensation.

A handful of 9/11 first responders entered McConnell’s workplace Tuesday afternoon. One youthful survivor entered in a wheelchair, his New York Hearth Division squad quantity embroidered on his shirt. No person spoke as the boys of all ages have been greeted by the senator.

Earlier within the day the bulk chief advised reporters in regards to the assembly.

“I’m going to be assembly with a 9/11 group later at this time,” McConnell mentioned on the Capitol. “I sit up for it. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, we’re definitely going to handle this problem.”

Two weeks in the past, the Home Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in help of replenishing the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, which offers cash to those that are sick or dying from diseases linked to their work amid the poisonous particles at 9/11 assault websites.

The $7.three billion fund was opened by the federal authorities in 2011 to compensate for deaths and diseases linked to poisonous publicity on the World Commerce Middle, on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., after terrorists crashed 4 hijacked airliners on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

The fund has paid about $5 billion to roughly 21,000 claimants. With greater than 19,000 extra unpaid claims, the fund is working out of cash, and beneath present regulation it’s scheduled to cease taking claims in December 2020.

At an emotional listening to the day earlier than the Home vote, Stewart excoriated members of Congress and pleaded with them to shortly go the invoice. Throughout a subsequent interview on “Fox Information Sunday,” he notably took intention at McConnell.

“I need to make it clear that this has by no means been handled compassionately by Senator McConnell,” Stewart mentioned. “He has all the time held out till the final minute, and solely then, beneath intense lobbying and public shaming, has he even deigned to maneuver on it.”

McConnell responded that he didn’t know why Stewart was “all bent off form” over the measure. “We now have by no means failed to handle this problem, and we are going to tackle it once more,” he mentioned.

In remarks on the Senate ground Tuesday, Senate Minority Chief Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) mentioned “it’s a superb factor” that McConnell was assembly with the primary responders. He renewed his name for McConnell to carry the funding measure to the Senate ground.

“It’s not sufficient to have only a assembly; these courageous women and men who rushed to the towers selflessly, within the midst of hazard, when nobody knew what would come subsequent — they deserve a dedication that their invoice will probably be thought of in a well timed method right here on the ground,” Schumer mentioned.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) mentioned that the invoice had reached 60 co-sponsors, giving it “a bipartisan, filibuster-proof majority.”

“We now have the votes for this invoice to go as quickly because it involves the ground,” she mentioned in a press release Tuesday.

John Feal, a development employee who was injured at Floor Zero and has develop into an activist, is amongst these assembly with McConnell.

“What we will do is supply [the first responders] some dignity and supply them aid and supply them humanity, which appears to have been misplaced over the previous decade,” he advised Fox Information Channel forward of the assembly. He added: “I need one assembly with Mitch McConnell the place I can shake his hand and inform him, ‘Thanks for doing the appropriate factor.’”

Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.

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