Comedian Jon Stewart spent the past week lobbying for a most noble cause: the continued — and hopefully permanent — funding from Congress for 9/11 victims.
He plucked a lot of heartstrings with some passionate testimony in the House last week, then went on the offensive on “Fox News Sunday,” taking particular aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
“Yes,” Stewart replied. “I mean, not me personally, but in terms of getting the 9/11 bills passed, Mitch McConnell has been the white whale of this since 2010.” He said it’s the “cynicism displayed by Washington” that causes him to get so “emotional” about this particular issue.
“They asked Mitch McConnell about the testimony after it was done,” Stewart continued, “and he said, ‘Gosh’—I think he used the word ‘gosh’—‘Gosh, we haven’t looked at that in a while but we will look at it and I’m sure we’ll deal with it as compassionately as we have in the past.’”
“But I want to make it clear that this has never been dealt with compassionately by Senator McConnell,” he said. “He has always held out until the very last minute and only then, under intense lobbying and public shaming has he even deigned to move on it.”
It’s getting dealt with, just not quickly enough or with the proper amount of warm and fuzzy from McConnell to suit Stewart’s tastes.
McConnell seems unfazed by Stewart’s withering criticism:
McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, reacted by saying that “many things in Congress happen at the last minute.”
“We have never failed to address this issue. And we will address it again,” McConnell said on “Fox & Friends” Monday. “I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape. We will take care of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.”
Senate rules and procedures are arcane and slow-moving on the of best days on Capitol Hill. The Senate is by design supposed to be a very deliberative body, although one could easily debate just how much actual deep deliberation gets done there these days. It is simply not a nimble legislative body.
McConnell also clarified why there was sparse attendance by members of the House Judiciary subcommittee when Stewart testified last week:
“That frequently happens because members have a lot of things going on at the same time,” McConnell said. “It sounds to me like he is looking for some way to take offense.”
The attendance was mentioned in much of the coverage of Stewart’s appearance last week. The gist of all of it was to make it seem that Congress in general didn’t care.
McConnell assured the “Fox and Friends” hosts that the funding would be taken care of in the Senate.