The legislation which assisted in paying for the medical costs of first responders who valiantly ran to help those injured in the terrorist attacks on 9/11 has expired as of October 1. Since that fateful day in 2001, hundred have died from illnesses that developed as a result of inhaling toxic fumes and debris while saving lives at Ground Zero. The World Trade Center Health Program was in existence to help these heroes.
New York legislators are trying to convince their colleagues to pass a long-term extension of the Program so that those injured do not have to worry about losing their health care every couple of years. Congress is running out of time to renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act by the end of 2015.
Supporters unsuccessfully tried to include the 9/11 benefits in the recently passed transportation bill. Democrats blamed Republicans for its exclusion, and Republicans countered that everyone wants the legislation to pass by years end – just not in a bill about funding highways. House Speaker Paul Ryan stated last week that, “We have not decided what vehicle it will be or what funding level but it is something we do intend to get done by the end of the year.”
To try to make that happen, many New York politicians convened at the World Trade Center on Sunday to let the public know how upset they were that it has proven so hard to pass such a bill that everyone wants.
Senator Chuck Schumer told the crowd that, “I’ll tell you the legislation I’d like to propose. That those who block this legislation in its final week be required to attend a funeral of a first responder who rushed to the towers, got toxic stuff in his body, and died. Let them come to the funeral and see what they’re making happen.”
Representative Carolyn Maloney added that, “It’s a national scandal. There are hundreds of people that are sick at this time, with more to come, unfortunately.” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton further added that, “Some of those illnesses take quite a while to develop, so this bill is very, very important.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also added his two cents, saying that, “It is unpatriotic to ignore the needs of our first responders. It is un-American that this has stalled, and it is immoral that help hasn’t come to our heroes.”