Earlier this month, it came out that the federal fund that compensates 9/11 victims and their families would be slashing payouts to sick first responders, relatives of the dead, and other individuals who suffered because of the work they did near Ground Zero. Jon Stewart, who has advocated on behalf of 9/11 first responders for years, went to Washington today with several other NY lawmakers to call on Congress to provide additional funding for and to make permanent the Victim Compensation Fund.

"These first responders and these survivors, they came down to the site as fast as they could and they stayed there for months, tenaciously searching first as a rescue operation and then as a recovery operation," Stewart told CNN. "And they helped stabilize not just New York City, but the entire country during that time."

Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya, who runs the Victim Compensation Fund, said last week that the program has used about $5 billion of its $7.375 billion budget, which was created by Congress in 2011, to pay 21,000 claims. That would leave $2.3 billion left through the end of 2020. But there remains a pending list of nearly 20,000 people who have not received any compensation, and recent months have seen a "particularly significant increase in claim filings," according to an annual status report.

As a result, pending claims will now be paid out at 50 percent of the former value promised. Those who filed after February 1st will see their payouts decreased by 70 percent.

In an op-ed for the Daily News, Stewart called the cuts "madness" and advocated for a new bill titled "Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund." The bill is being introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer and Cory Gardner, and Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler and Pete King. "I fully recognize that the words 'fix this' and 'Congress' may appear mutually exclusive," he wrote. "But Congress must fund the VCF so it can deal with the increase in claims and stop the fund from closing its doors next year when its authorization expires."

"To be quite frank, it's embarrassing that it hasn't been done already," Stewart said in another interview.

"Let's get them the proper funding...let's do it in a way that doesn't bring more stress and more damage to the difficult road that they've already gone through," he told MSNBC. "First responders pride themselves on response time...and yet, each and every time when they have a need, our response is inadequate, slow and apathetic."

Stewart even appeared on Fox News to promote the bill:

Stewart was joined for the media rounds today with John Feal, a 9/11 first responder who has visited Washington nearly 270 times to advocate for more funds. "This is Congress's fault because they keep insulting us and they keep playing games and giving us five-year bills," he said. "Cancer has no arbitrary date. These respiratory illnesses have no arbitrary date."