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Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, smiles as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks by. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The Senate voted 97-2 on Tuesday to reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, securing funding for first responders and victims impacted by the toxins at Ground Zero through 2092. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only senators to vote no.

Why it matters: The fund is set to run out by 2020, affecting approximately 93,000 first responders and survivors still being treated or monitored 19 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The tally of victims after 9/11 will eventually exceed the 2,977 killed on the day of the attacks, according to the New York Daily News.

The backdrop: Comedian Jon Stewart's championing of the issue, which included an impassioned speech at a House hearing in June in which he blasted members of Congress for their low attendance, has helped bring the bill to national prominence.

  • Stewart told Fox News in June that first responders were "at the end of their rope" with Congress and that the issue has "never been dealt with compassionately" by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
  • Stewart also called it "outrageous" that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked the bill from being passed by unanimous consent last week. Paul responded by saying that he was "simply offering an amendment, which other senators support, to pay for this legislation."
  • Paul's amendment was ultimately defeated 22-77.

What they're saying:

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell said in a statement before the vote: "In just a few hours, the Senate will attend to an important subject that we have never failed to address: The September 11th Victims Compensation Fund… Congress can never repay these men, women, and families for their sacrifices. But we can do our small part to try and make our heroes whole. That’s why the Senate has never failed to attend to the Fund before. We weren’t about to do so now."
  • Sen. Rand Paul, who voted against the bill, wrote on Twitter: "While I support our heroic first responders, I can’t in good conscience vote for legislation which to my dismay remains unfunded. We have a nearly trillion dollar deficit and $22 trillion in debt. Spending is out of control."
  • Jon Stewart said at a press conference after the vote: "We can never repay all that 9/11 community has done for our country. But we can stop penalizing them. And today is that day that they can exhale."

What's next: The bill, which was passed by the House 402-12 earlier this month, will now go to the desk of President Trump for a signature.

Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
4 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.