What we owe them now: Congress must continue 9/11 victims’ aid
Not for a moment should anyone sick from exposure to the toxic stew at the World Trade Center on and following 9/11 have to worry about whether aid will be there for them.
But with $4.2 billion already spent on awards out of a $7.3 billion fund and more than 600 new claims filed a month, it’s almost certain that the vital WTC Victims Compensation Fund will run dry before all in need get aid — including an unknown number of recovery workers and others bound to eventually develop an insidious form of lung cancer that takes decades to appear.
Congress cannot, must not, leave those who worked under grueling conditions to seek survivors and recover remains at Ground Zero — who heeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s assurances at the time that airborne toxins posed no threat to health — to wither for want of will to see aid through until the job is done.
Nor should residents, workers and students whose world turned disaster zone be denied any rationed help they need now and into the future.
Ailing first responders hauled down to the Capitol repeatedly for more than a year urging renewal of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. It lapsed for months before Congress finally approved a five-year expansion at the end of 2015.