McConnell to meet with 9/11 first responders following Jon Stewart criticism: report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms Impeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill 'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera MORE (R-Ky.) will reportedly meet with 9/11 first responders this week, following backlash from advocates including comedian Jon Stewart over the September 11th Victims Fund. 

John Feal, a first responder who lost part of his foot in a Ground Zero mishap and who later founded the FealGood Foundation, told the New York Post that McConnell agreed to meet with advocates of the fund Tuesday.

“Listen, we come in peace. But we also — we’re prepared for anything, whether it’s a street fight or Mitch McConnell saying yes,” Feal told the New York Post. 

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The Hill reached out to a McConnell spokesman for comment. McConnell's office did not respond to the New York Post's request for comment.

Stewart called out McConnell, saying he has used the bill as a bargaining chip in the past and has never dealt with the issue compassionately. 

McConnell dismissed Stewart's accusations, saying, "I don't know how many times I can say: We've never left the 9/11 victims behind, and we won't again."

Stewart is pushing for a bill that would expand funding for first responders through 2090. Without passing a new bill, funding will likely run out this year. 

Feal also told the New York Post that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE could also push McConnell and other Republicans "to get on board." 

Trump said on Sunday in an interview on NBC's Meet The Press he was "very impressed" by Stewart's testimony earlier this month, but did not go so far as to say if he'd direct McConnell to ensure the bill is passed, according to the New York Post

Earlier this month Stewart advocated for the bill alongside first responders at a House subcommittee hearing, sharing an emotional testimony where he condemned representatives for skipping over the fund. 

"Your indifference costs these men and women their most valuable commodity: time. It's the one thing they're running out of," he said at the time.

Lou Alvarez, a retired NYPD detective who advocated with Stewart this month, announced he was placed in hospice a day after his trip to the Capitol.