Panel to reauthorize 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. - One day after a blistering rebuke from Jon Stewart, a House panel has advanced a 9/11 Victim Compensation Bill. 

Two local lawmakers who are on that panel are responding to Stewart's criticisms about those who skipped out on the hearing Tuesday.

Madeline Dean and Mary Gay Scanlon, who represent Berks, Delaware and Montgomery counties, say they understand Stewart's frustration and that is why they are doing everything they can to permanently fix the injustice.

On Tuesday, with 9/11 first responders behind him, comedian Jon Stewart pounded the House Judiciary Committee over the lack of funding for the victims.

"I'm angry and you should be, too, and they are all angry as well, and they have every justification to be that way," said Stewart. "I am awfully tired of hearing that it is a 9/11 New York issue. Al Qaeda did not shout 'death to Tribeca.'" 

Stewart was also furious only five of the 41 members who serve on the committee were present for testimony from 9/11 first responders.

One of the five was Delaware and Montgomery County Democratic Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.

The first-term representative thanked the heroes and apologized for the loss and grief they endured and having to be in front of Congress again. 

"The shock and horror of those events were really surpassed by the bravery, grace and humanity of the first responders," said Scanlon.

Not in the room at the time, Montgomery and Berks County Democratic Congresswoman Madeline Dean.

A spokesperson for Dean says she had to step out to go to another meeting.

Dean eventually returned to the room.

"We care. We think this is a grievous wrong that you have to come and ask for reauthorization. It is an absolute insane grievous wrong, and we get it," said Dean.

Dean and the rest of the committee are putting their money where their mouths are by unanimously passing a bill Wednesday to permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. It was scheduled to run out at the end of next year.

The bill will now go to the full House for a vote. Should it pass, it will go to the Senate.

However, it is unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will take up the bill.

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