Congress just decided that continuing to fund health care for 9/11 first responders is a pretty good idea.

(Also the sky is blue and candy tastes good).

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act is a bill that would extend the already existing health benefits for 9/11 first responders until 2090. It covers medical and other expenses for a long list of conditions that many first responders face as a result of the rescue and recovery efforts after the aircraft crashes on 9/11.


It's a bill that's about as controversial as this kitten:

You're not polarizing at all are you, little guy? Photo from iStock.


It came as a surprise to many people that the bill has had some trouble getting passed. So much trouble in fact, that it prompted America's newly-bearded and recently retired late night sweetheart to return to TV.

I'm speaking, of course, of Jon Stewart, who appeared on The Daily Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where he urged Congress to stop playing politics with "this necessary bill" and showed just how bad things can get for the responders.

Stewart with the remaining member of a full panel of first responders from five years ago. Screenshot via "The Daily Show"/Comedy Central.

Thanks in part to Stewart's dedication and action, the Zadroga Act is now is now moving forward.

Legislators agreed on an $8.1 billion reauthorization on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, and attached it to the $1.1 trillion spending bill funding the federal government through most of 2016.

That spending bill, by the way, is the must-pass legislation that narrowly avoided yet another government shutdown before the end of the year.

Essentially, Congress took the two bills that most exemplify their inability to get stuff done on time, stapled them together, and are now nudging them through the House while patting themselves on the back.

Mad yet? Here's another kitten:

You support common sense legislation don't you, buddy?

The Zadroga Act/spending bill double-stuffed Oreo of incompetence won't be voted on until next week, but this is a positive sign.

Especially since the world's easiest bill to get behind has faced such a seemingly uphill battle.

"It's been a tough fight, and it has been a long fight, but it has been worth it," said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who's been working on 9/11 legislation since 2001. "All [the first responders] ask of us is that we never forget their sacrifice, and Congress is now sending a clear message back: We haven’t."

Many are also calling it a huge victory for the public voice.

Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speaking at a news conference announcing the renewal of the Zadroga Act. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"It is a testament to the extraordinary power that Americans can have when they raise their voice and demand action,“ said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, implying that the public outcry championed largely by Jon Stewart has had a real effect on Congress deciding to act.

But the fight isn't over, and the problem never will be.

The simple fact is, a huge number of 9/11 first responders face both mental and physical health problems every day as a result of their heroic actions. Over 8,500 people are currently being treated by the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center.

In the New York Fire Department alone, 109 responders have died from illnesses linked to ground zero exposure.

Passing the Zadroga Reauthorization Act is, as Jon Stewart put it, "literally the least we can do."

Congress, it would appear, can still be trusted to do the least they can do.

The passing of this bill is important, necessary, and impossible to disagree with.

Just like this kitten:

Yes you are! YES YOU ARE!

True

From the time she was a little girl, Abby Recker loved helping people. Her parents kept her stocked up with first-aid supplies so she could spend hours playing with her dolls, making up stories of ballet injuries and carefully wrapping “broken” arms and legs.

Recker fondly describes her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a simple place where people are kind to one another. There’s even a term for it—“Iowa nice”—describing an overall sense of agreeableness and emotional trust shown by people who are otherwise strangers.

Abby | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Driven by passion and the encouragement of her parents, Recker attended nursing school, graduating just one year before the unthinkable happened: a global pandemic. One year into her career as an emergency and labor and delivery nurse, everything she thought she knew about the medical field got turned upside down. That period of time was tough on everyone, and Nurse Recker was no exception.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less
True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less

We're dancing along too.

Art can be a powerful unifier. With just the right lyric, image or word, great art can soften those hard lines that divide us, helping us to remember the immense value of human connection and compassion.

This is certainly the case with “Pasoori,” a Pakistani pop song that has not only become an international hit, it’s managed to bring the long divided peoples of India and Pakistan together in the name of love. Or at least in the name of good music.
Keep Reading Show less

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.

Keep Reading Show less