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Senate Passes 9/11 Bill Despite GOP Opposition

Mitch McConnell dragged his feet on the bill, and two Republicans tried to block it, but help finally is on the way for 9/11 first responders.

Almost two weeks after the House passed the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Bill, the Senate finally followed suit on Tuesday. After defeating amendments by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — Lee’s would have limited the amount available for the fund, and Paul’s introduced spending cuts to offset the cost of the fund — the Senate passed the bill by a vote of of 97-2. Lee and Paul voted against the bill.

The bill, if Trump signs it into law, will replenish a fund that pays for the health care costs of first responders who rushed to save people on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Before the bill even came to the Senate for a vote, it was marred in controversy as Republicans like Paul and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed reluctant to see the bill pass.

In June, McConnell admitted the bill wasn’t even on his agenda.

“Gosh, I hadn’t looked at that lately,” McConnell said.

McConnell was shamed by comedian and former talk show host Jon Stewart into eventually meeting with 9/11 first responders. Stewart has been a consistent and leading voice to make sure 9/11 first responders are taken care of.

“They did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity, humility,” Stewart told Congress in July. “Eighteen years later, do yours.”

On July 17, after the House passed the bill, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) tried to pass it through the Senate by unanimous consent. That’s when Paul stood up and objected, claiming the money going into the fund “should be offset by cutting spending.”

Paul’s objection sparked outrage among 9/11 first responders. John Feal, a demolition expert who was injured responding to the attacks, called Paul and Lee “assholes” for their efforts to block the bill. (Lee used a procedural tactic to prevent the bill from passing earlier.)

“They’re hypocrites at best,” Feal told CNN’s “New Day” the day after Paul blocked the bill. “They’re bottom feeders. They’re opportunists.”

“They should be begging for forgiveness for being assholes” and opposing the bill, he added.

Despite Republican obstruction tactics, the bill finally passed both the House and Senate and now heads to Trump for his signature.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

After Stewart’s Angry Plea, McConnell Will Meet With 9/11 First Responders

It turns out Mitch McConnell does have the ability to feel shame after all.

The Kentucky Republican is set to meet with ailing 9/11 first responders who have been fighting to reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund — which is not only set to expire at the end of next year, but is already running out of money.

With help from comedian and activist Jon Stewart — who gave an impassioned plea to Congress to finally do right by the people who rushed to the rescue after the terrorist attacks that struck New York City nearly two decades ago — the first responders have gained the national spotlight in recent weeks for their quest to get the fund permanent authorization.

McConnell initially played dumb about where the fund’s reauthorization stood.

“Gosh, I hadn’t looked at that lately,” McConnell said after Stewart’s speech. “I’ll have to. We’ve always dealt with that in the past in a compassionate way, and I assume we will again.”

And after Stewart spoke out again — largely blaming McConnell for stonewalling and delaying the reauthorization effort — McConnell was dismissive of Stewart’s anger.

“I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape,” McConnell said on Fox & Friends about why Stewart was so angry that Congress hadn’t reauthorized the fund yet.

The first responders, for their part, have been battling Congress for years, and place the blame on McConnell’s shoulders for using the victim compensation fund as a political football.

In fact, the first responders say that Democrats have been trying to help but that McConnell has stood in their way of permanently reauthorizing the fund.

John Feal, who founded the FealGood Foundation to help support first responders who fell ill after working to clean up the disaster at Ground Zero, told the New York Post that he and other first responders who are meeting with McConnell are prepared to speak their mind.

“Listen, we come in peace,” Feal told the Post. “But we also — we’re prepared for anything, whether it’s a street fight or Mitch McConnell saying yes.”

We’ll find out soon what tactics the first responders had to take in their meeting.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks about the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election in Washington, November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

#EndorseThis: Jon Stewart Returns To Troll Colbert

Stephen Colbert takes six minutes to get through a brief monologue teasing the Obamas about their new Netflix deal. It doesn’t help that Jon Stewart is poking, grabbing, and taunting him from under his own desk.

In this surreal clip from The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the former king of TV satire has a field day hiding from Backbone and the audience. Adorable sweepstakes winner Rachel Ulmer is alongside Stewart. The pair throw a tea party, show off (fake) newspapers like hostages, and tease Colbert with a Japanese throwing star.

Stewart, who seems intoxicated (with the moment or maybe literally), improvises odd jokes about the Queen of England before inventing a cramped game of Twister that is especially painful for Colbert. That’s if the feet Stewart ravages aren’t attached to a dummy. In fact the show cleverly hides whether Jon and Rachel are actually there in flesh…until the big payoff at the end.

Click to feel like Jon was never gone.

#EndorseThis: Jon Stewart Helps The Media Get Its Groove Back

It’s in dire times like these that America misses its favorite living satirist, Jon Stewart. Luckily for all of us, he left the farm and crawled out of retirement — through a tunnel directly to the Late Show — to address the media’s toxic relationship with Donald Trump.

Addressing Trump’s obsession with lying as a means to prove his alternative facts, Stewart ran down the usual list of Trump’s lies from his electoral win to the country’s murder rate. Then Stewart borrowed a page from Senator Tim Kaine’s Democratic Convention speech as he pinpointed the president’s obvious tell — the phrase “believe me.” When Colbert feigned skepticism, Stewart rolled a montage of Trump’s tell to hilarious effect.

Stewart did not let the media off easy, and offered this advice for dealing with Trump’s never-ending lies — stop whining.

“This breakup has given you an amazing opportunity for self-reflection and improvement,” Stewart admonished. “Take up a hobby! I recommend journalism.”

You don’t want to miss his (latest) triumphant return to late night. The guy can’t stay away…