9/11 first responder chokes up while mentioning terminally ill friend after McConnell meeting
John Feal, a 9/11 first responder, said that while he wasn't "happy" after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., he was satisfied with his decision to hold a vote on funding for 9/11 first responders who encountered health complications after risking their lives to rescue others.
Feal had just met with McConnell after a prolonged battle in which comedian Jon Stewart denounced lawmakers for failing to pass a funding package for the first responders. It's unclear why the legislation was stalled in the Senate but Feal said that McConnell's compliance came as they questioned his "humanity."
"Today, we challenged his humanity and he passed," Feal said when someone asked whether McConnell raised any concerns.
He also unloaded on lawmakers, saying that they worked for the people and not the other way around. "They work for us. The chairs that they put their a**es in, the pens that they use, the pens that they write on, we pay for that s**t. That's us. They work for us. Mitch Mcconnell works for us," he said.
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"He works for all of you guys -- and today Mitch Mcconnell promised to work for us and I'm going to take him for his word."
Feal mentioned how he gave McConnell the badge of Luis Alvarez, a first responder whom he was going to visit before his impending death. Feal choked up before telling the press that he was going to visit Alvarez later that day.
"He's got his badge now and if he strays from his commitment, then we'll go back into attack mode," he said, referring to McConnell.
Alvarez, a police detective, testified before Congress earlier in June as he struggled with liver cancer. “So now I’m resting and I’m at peace. I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time,” Alvarez reportedly said on Facebook.
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"I’m now in hospice, because their is nothing else the doctors can do to fight the cancer. It had nothing to do with my trip to DC, that was just coincidence," his Facebook post also read.
After Stewart made an emotional plea before the Senate, McConnell claimed lawmakers were very busy and suggested the comedian was trying to find a way to be offended.
Stewart later mocked the majority leader saying, "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt them... with their jobs!" During an appearance on "The Late Show," he accused McConnell of using 9/11 responders as political pawns.
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"You're not good at this argument thing. Basically we're saying you love the 9/11 community when they serve your political purposes, but when they’re in urgent need, you slow-walk, you dither," he said.
"You used it as a political pawn to get other things you want, and you don’t get the job done completely, and your answer to that charge is, ‘Yeah, duh, we’re Congress. That’s how we do.'”