Former late-night host Jon Stewart joined New York lawmakers on Monday to call on the White House to withdraw a proposal to reorganize the health-care program for 9/11 first responders.
In a press conference outside the Capitol alongside first responders, Stewart said President Trump should “put a stop” to the effort.
“He’s a guy that has supported the first responders and veterans, he talks about how much he loves them,” Stewart said of Trump. “It’s a very simple thing. I’m sure he could put a stop to it this afternoon if he wanted to. And so I would urge him to do so.”
The Trump administration is considering a reorganization that would move the 9/11 health-care program from oversight by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a worker safety agency.
Stewart and the lawmakers argued that doing so would needlessly upend the program, which provides health care for first responders with cancer and other illnesses caused by exposure to materials at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
On a call with reporters, a senior administration official pushed back on the claims at the press conference, saying there is no effort to change services or funding through the 9/11 program.
Instead, the official says the administration is simply reorganizing the program to fit under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while NIOSH, which the official said is research-focused, would be under the National Institutes of Health.
At the press conference with Stewart, New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D), Jerrold Nadler (D) and Pete King (R) singled out White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as being behind the proposal.
“Leave the 9/11 health-care program alone,” Maloney said. “Director Mulvaney needs to immediately withdraw this proposal.”
The administration official denied that the change was Mulvaney’s project, saying the idea was generated from policy staff at the Office of Management and Budget.
The proposal would require congressional action to be implemented.
Stewart helped first responders and New York lawmakers push for funding for the 9/11 program in 2015, which was finally approved that year after a long push.
Stewart said he did not want to jeopardize the progress with changes, joking that when “one guy screws everything up,” it would become known as “pulling a Mulvaney.”