Schumer calls for Senate vote on 9/11 victim fund
© Aaron Schwartz
 
"The House Judiciary Committee just passed the fix to the Victims Compensation Fund. The full House will follow suit soon. As soon as the House passes this bill, it should be on the floor of the Senate immediately — as a stand-alone bill," Schumer said from the Senate floor.
 
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The House panel passed legislation on Wednesday to extend the fund through the 2090 fiscal year. It was set to expire in 2020, but Rupa Bhattacharyya, the fund's administrator, warned earlier this year that it currently had an insufficient level of funding to pay claims. 
 
Schumer blasted Congress's handling of the fund as "shameful," arguing that 9/11 responders were forced to come to Capitol Hill to ask for more funding every time they needed an extension.  
 
"It’s shameful. There’s no other word for it. Shameful, that our brave first responders have had to suffer the indignity of delay after delay after delay, of searching for some must-pass bill to tuck their issue into because this Congress, this Senate, didn’t think it was important enough to pass on its own," Schumer said. 

Schumer's comments come a day after comedian Jon Stewart publicly pleaded for lawmakers to extend the funding and criticized those who skipped the subcommittee hearing. 

"Accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber … I'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic, but I am angry, and you should be, too," Stewart said as he testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee. 

The House is expected to take up the legislation, kicking the issue to the Senate.

Schumer added on Wednesday that once that happens "only one person" will be standing in the way of the bill passing Senate — McConnell. 

"So I say to Leader McConnell: This is not politics. This is not a game. ... I am imploring, pleading, even begging to Leader McConnell, to put the bill on the floor immediately after it passes the House," Schumer said.

McConnell was asked about the funding during a press conference this week and told reporters that he hadn't "looked at it lately" but that Congress had previously dealt with it "in a compassionate way." 

"I havan't looked at that lately. I'll have to. We've always dealt with that in the past in a compassionate way, and I assume we will again," he told reporters.