June 12 (UPI) -- The House judiciary committee gave its approval to legislation replenishing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Wednesday, one day after comedian Jon Stewart passionately implored the panel to support the bill.
The committee unanimously voted in favor of the bill, which funds the VCF until 2090. The bill now heads before the full House for a vote.
"It is time for us to give responders and survivors peace of mind, once and for all, and pass this long-term reauthorization to ensure the VCF will be there for them as long as they need it," Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said.
The congressionally created fund is limited to families of those killed and the injured at the sites of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The fund first operated from 2001 to 2004 and was then reactivated in 2011. To date, some 40,000 people have applied to the fund, with 20,000 claims pending.
In February, the fund's special master, Rupa Bhattacharyya, said he'd have to reduce payments by at least 50 percent after a record number of claims and dwindling funds.
Stewart appeared Tuesday before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties with a group of first responders from the attacks. He complained about how long it has taken for Congress to pass the legislation.
"I'm sorry if I sound angry and undiplomatic. But I'm angry, and you should be, too. And they're all angry, as well," Stewart said of the first responders. "And they have every justification to be that way.
"They responded in 5 seconds. They did their jobs.
"Eighteen years later, do yours!"