Elissa Lerner: Last Thursday, after Senate republicans filibustered their way out of passing the Zadroga Bill, also known as the 9/11 health care bill which would provide $7.4 billion in health aid to ailing first responders, few took notice. However, on the Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart took the issue quite seriously. Little did we know that staying to work and pass the bill would require the Senate to denigrate Christmas!
In a clip, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) explained that “It’s impossible to do all of the things the majority leader laid out without doing – frankly, without disrespecting the institution, and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians. and the families of all of the Senate, just not the senators, but all of the staff.”
Stewart pointed out this amounted to claiming that working between Christmas Day and New Years Eve would disrespect the entire holiday. Because New Years is still part of the religious calendar. (And what about working between New Years Day and Jan. 6th? Can’t the rest of the 12 days of Christmas get some love?)
Kenny Specht from the FDNY responded to Stewart: “This just shows the disconnect between those we elect to represent us and those that are here to do the work. Because I’m here to say that you won’t find a single New York City firefighter who considers it a sign of disrespect to work in a New York City firehouse on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.” John Devlin, another 9/11 responder added, “It was an honor to work through Christmas on that 9/11 to give that closure to those people on the other side of that gate every morning.”
Aside from the politics at hand, what does this mean? Is Christmas vacation only available to those public servants in the highest of national office, and not emergency workers in our cities? Is there a hierarchy of who gets to celebrate holidays?