Lawmakers have voted to advance legislation that would extend funding for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, a day after comedian Jon Stewart scolded Congress for not doing enough to make sure the fund doesn't run out of money.
According to CBS New York, the "Never Forget The Heroes Act" now moves to the full House of Representatives for a vote in July.
According to the New York Daily News, the new bill passed on a voice vote -- without opposition. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised the measure will pass the House. If it does, it would then be up to the Senate to decide what to do.
Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders, angrily called out lawmakers on Tuesday for failing to attend a hearing on the bill, which would ensure the fund can pay benefits for the next 70 years. Pointing to rows of empty seats at a House Judiciary Committee hearing room, Stewart said "sick and dying" first responders and their families came to Washington for the hearing, only to face a nearly deserted dais.
The sparse attendance by lawmakers was "an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution," Stewart said, adding that the "disrespect" shown to first responders now suffering from respiratory ailments and other illnesses "is utterly unacceptable."
The compensation fund was supposed to have enough money to pay victims through 2020, but an increase in claims has put it short on cash. Supporters hope this legislation will remedy that situation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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