Comedian and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart lambasted congressional lawmakers for not showing up to a hearing on a bill that provides health benefits to the first responders in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

"As I sit here today, I can't help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to," Stewart said on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. "Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders; and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one… shameful."

Stewart was addressing the Congressional Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Liberties. A little over half of the 14 member committee decided to show up, most of them Democrats.   

In 2010, Congress passed the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act, named after a New York City police officer who died to respiratory illness linked to his participation in the first response operations after the attack. The act provides financial help and health monitoring to those first responders who have developed an illness or disease in the aftermath in the attack.

In 2015, the act expired and Jon Stewart went to Congress to ask for it to be reinstated. Congress then reauthorized the Act, providing health benefits to those first responders until 2090. A part of the act called the Victims Compensation Fund, however, will expire at the end of 2020. The Never Forget The Heroes Act Of 2019 was introduced to reauthorize the fund. 

Jon Stewart brought a group of 9/11 first responders to the hearing, including Luis Alvarez, a 9/11 first responder from the New York Police Department who developed cancer as a result of the attack. "This fund isn't a ticket to paradise, it's to provide our families with care," Alvarez said. 

The Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act group said that 9/11 first responders could face cuts in compensation between 50% and 70% if the fund is not extended. The organization said that 39 of 100 Senate members support the bill, while 305 out 435 Representatives in the House back the measure. 

"Why this bill is not unanimous consent is beyond my comprehension, Stewart said at the hearing, which took place hours before a vote by House on a contempt resolution against Attorney General William Barr over his handling of the Mueller report.