Mitch McConnell Will Meet 9/11 First Responders After Jon Stewart’s Public Shaming

Mitch McConnell Will Meet 9/11 First Responders After Jon Stewart’s Public Shaming

A week ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sniffed at the very idea that the Senate was dragging its heels on extending the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.

What a dfference a week makes.

CBS reports that McConnell has agreed to meet this week with a group of first responders to discuss the importance of extending the legislation that created the fund, which helps people with illnesses caused by the 9/11 attacks. The news comes after McConnell spent a week getting hammered publicly for his initially dismissive attitude towards the first responders and the supporters helping them lobby Congress.

McConnell became embroiled in the controversy when Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show and a longtime advocate for those whose health was wrecked by their work at the sites of the 9/11 attacks, gave a fiery denunciation of Congress’ lack of action to a mostly empty congressional panel. Among other criticisms, Stewart called Congress’ foot-dragging “shameful” and “an embarrassment to the country.”

In response, McConnell made clear that he couldn’t understand just what all the fuss was about. As he told Fox News:

“Well, many things in Congress happen at the last minute,” he responded. “We’ve never failed to address this issue and we will address it again. I don’t know why he is all bent out of shape but we will take care of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.”

Pro tip: when someone is as mad at you as Jon Stewart was, publicly sneering that you don’t understand “why he is all bent out of shape” is going to be a public relations nightmare.

Sure enough, Stewart immediately showed up on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to fire back at McConnell:

“I’m bent out of shape for them. These are the first heroes and veterans and victims of the great trillions of dollars war on terror. And they’re currently still suffering and dying and in terrible need. You would think that would be enough to get Congress’ attention? But apparently, it’s not.”

Even President Trump agreed with Stewart, telling Chuck Todd during an interview on Meet the Press on Sunday that he liked what Stewart had said to Congress.

It takes a lot to get Mitch McConnell to back down on anything. In this case, it seems to have taken a week of public shaming over his cavalier attitude towards people who are dying of painful illnesses. Boy, that was easy.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.