Jon Stewart huddles with Senate Dems on 9/11 benefits
© Greg Nash
Jon Stewart huddled with Senate Democrats Wednesday as part of a visit to Capitol Hill to push for renewal of federal health benefits for first responders to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 
"Hopefully we'll get some momentum, we'll get this done, and hopefully we won't have to drag first responders with stage four cancer down to Washington every five years to beg for medicine because it's embarrassing," Stewart told reporters ahead of the Democratic caucus meeting.  
Stewart's visit is already bearing fruit. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Trump again vetoes resolution blocking national emergency for border wall Trump invites congressional leaders to meeting on Turkey MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters that "we do plan to extend the program," adding that it's currently working its way through the Congressional committee process. 
"If Congress can't come together... then we might as well just as forget this place all together," he added. "So this really is a bright glimmer of hope." 
It's unclear when the Senate could take up the legislation. Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandLobbying world 2020 Presidential Candidates Krystal Ball: Yang campaign a 'triumph of substance over the theatre' MORE (D-N.Y.) said that a short-term spending bill could be the "best vehicle," though she added that supporters want a permanent solution. 
Stewart, as well as the 9/11 first responders, are expected to sit down with the McConnell on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the extension. 
The former Daily Show host's visit to Capitol Hill comes as lawmakers try to lock down a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. 
He initially sidestepped weighing in on the looming end-of-the-month deadline, before adding "if they can't get [the 9/11 bill] done, I don't know, maybe we should shut down." 
His remarks come after he attended a rally outside of the Capitol earlier Wednesday where he said that he was "embarrassed" about having to ask lawmakers to extend the benefits. 
“I’m embarrassed that you, after serving so selflessly with such heroism, have to come down here and convince people to do what’s right for the illnesses and difficulties that you suffered because of your heroism and because of your selflessness," he added at the event