Currents News Staff
A compensation program for 9/11 survivors is on the verge of running out of money.
One famous face added some star power to the effort to push congress to expand funding.
Comedian Jon Stewart teamed up with lawmakers and first responders to send a serious message to Capitol Hill.
“It has already shown itself to be effective, it has already relieved some of the stress these grieving families are going through,” said Stewart.
Funding for the victim compensation fund is running out.
On Monday, the former “Daily Show” host and lawmakers urged congress to provide additional funding and make the program permanent.
“The 9/11 death toll is still growing. 9/11 responders are still suffering,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a democrat from New York.
The victims fund is set to expire in 2020.
The special master who runs it recently announced plans to cut payouts up to 70-percent, saying 5-billion dollars of the more than 7.3-billion-dollar budget has been used to pay 21-thousand claims.
The number of claims jumped last year, and some 20-thousand claims are pending.
“I only stand here as one person, but representing a much larger community that desperately needs congress’ help,” said Karen Gaines, the wife of fallen firefighter Scott Gaines.
The fund compensates people who were hurt or killed during the attacks or as first responders, including people who suffer from cancers caused by the toxic dust created when the twin towers collapsed.
The program has been extended before. It originally paid out seven billion dollars from 2001 to 2003. It was reopened in 2011 and it was extended another five years in 2015.