- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Congress will approve legislation extending relief to people suffering from the effects of the 2001 terrorist attacks, responding to accusations he’s a roadblock.

“We’ve never left the 9/11 victims behind and we won’t again,” Mr. McConnell told reporters.

He has been peppered with questions over the last week as first Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and then comic Jon Stewart took aim at him, accusing him of holding up assistance.

Mr. McConnell has said the issue will receive floor time, as it always has, but it will happen on the Senate’s schedule.

But that level of support has not been sufficient for Mr. Stewart, who said Mr. McConnell has not shown compassion for first responders who are among the most prominent beneficiaries of the Victim Compensation Fund.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt them with their jobs! Honestly, Mitch McConnell, you really want to go with the ‘we get to it when we get to it’ argument for the heroes of 9/11,’” Mr. Stewart said on CBS’s “The Late Show” after the Senate leader said Monday that he didn’t know why the comedian was so “bent out of shape” when addressing Congress about the fund.

“You love the 9/11 community when they serve your political purposes, but when they’re in urgent need, you slow-walk, you dither, you used it as a political pawn to get other things you want, and you don’t get the job done completely, and your answer to that charge is, ‘Yeah, duh, we’re Congress. That’s how we do,’” he said.

The fund, originally paid out to families of victims of the attack, is now being used to help those with ongoing health issues, such as police and firefighters who responded to the site in the aftermath of the attack.

The current deadline for filing claims is December 2020, but the pace of claims is running so high that the fund is likely to exceed its budget, the special master overseeing the program told Congress last week

Congress created the fund in 2010 and supplied it with $7.3 billion, but it was funded only through the end of 2020. As claims climbed, the fund’s coffers have dwindled to nearly $2 billion.

To compensate for the shortfall resulting from increased claims, the fund has cut payments by as much as 70%.

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