Newsweek 6/14/19: The 9/11 VCF Should be Made Permanent

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Must Be Made Permanent—It’s the Least We Can Do | Opinion

On May 14, Candidus Henry died from glioblastoma, a rare brain cancer. His death added to the growing number of Americans killed by the September 11 attacks. He worked construction, and after the attacks he was assigned to Ground Zero, where he washed dust and cleaned debris off trucks as they left the pile of toxic rubble that once was the Twin Towers.

On Tuesday, June 11, his widow, Anesta Maria St. Rose Henry, testified in front of the House Committee on the Judiciary, sitting in front of two of their children, whom she is now raising alone. She told Congress about Candidus and the hole he left behind—a hole only made larger by the fact that, because her husband died last month instead of two years ago, she and her family will not receive a full award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

The VCF, created to provide financial support for 9/11 first responders, survivors and their families, is expiring next year, and, making matters worse, running out of money. The special master of the fund announced in February that because of a budget shortfall, they were forced to start cutting awards to these heroes by 50 to 70 percent to extend the fund’s life. The Henrys are one of the families devastated by this reduction.

And there are far too many stories like the Henrys’—of pain, suffering and illness.

NY Post 6/13/19: Now It is the Senate’s Duty to Move Fast on 9/11 Bill

Now it’s the Senate’s duty to move fast for hurting 9/11 heroes

Tuesday’s dramatic (and embarrassing, to the no-show members) testimony plainly did the trick: The House Judiciary Committee this week unanimously passed the bill to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund through 2090. It’s time for the Senate to get moving.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) will clearly pass the full House once it gets its official Congressional Budget Office fiscal-impact “score.” So any senators with doubts or questions should raise them now, so a fix can make it into law immediately.

The need is urgent: Because the fund is short of cash, it has had to slash by up to 70% of its payouts to cover the medical bills of workers exposed to toxins in post-9/11 rescue and cleanup operations.

Which is why cancer- and chemo-ravaged Detective Luis Alvarez felt compelled to head to DC to demand action.

The Senate may not want to sign on to renewing the fund for 70 years before looking at why it’s fallen so short of cash now. But it needs to authorize enough money right away to let full payouts resume.

And it needs to get on board with fast passage of a long-term fix so that the cash crunch doesn’t return — and so that no hurting hero like Alvarez ever again has to interrupt treatment to travel to Washington to demand simple justice.

Ending this disgrace needs to be a top priority for the Senate — starting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Vulture 6/11/19: Jon Stewart Yells at Congress for Ignoring 9/11 Responders

Jon Stewart Yelled at Members of Congress for Ignoring 9/11 First Responders

Jon Stewart in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 11. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

We don’t hear much anymore from Jon Stewart, the former Daily Show host whose regular “eviscerations” of deserving targets were once the subject of so many blog posts. But on Tuesday, he emerged for a moment from his comfortable retirement to lash out at Congress from inside the Capitol.

The occasion? The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is running out of money “and has had to slash payouts to ailing responders and survivors by more than half,” according to the Daily News. The fund, which was last reauthorized in 2015, set aside $7 billion to help cover the costs associated with post-9/11 illnesses. They’re costs that retired NYPD Bomb Squad Detective Louis Alvarez knows well. On Wednesday, he is set to undergo his 69th round of chemotherapy for 9/11-linked cancer. On Tuesday, he told the committee, “It is my goal and my legacy to see that you do the right thing for all 9/11 responders.”

Stewart, who has long used his platform to advocate on behalf of 9/11 first responders, spoke after Alvarez and began by criticizing the committee members who were not seated before him. According to CBS News, a “little over half of the 14-member subcommittee members were present, mostly Democrats.”

“I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,” he said. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and it’s a stain on this institution.”

Senate Democrats 6/12/19: Schumer Pleads with Sen. McConnell to Hold Stand Alone Vote after Passage of 9/11 Bill In the House

Schumer Pleads With Sen. McConnell To Commit To Hold Stand-Alone Vote On 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund Fix Legislation Immediately After It Passes The Full House

June 12, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today pleaded with Senate Majority Mitch McConnell to commit to bringing up legislation to fix the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund for a vote in the United States Senate as a stand-alone bill the week after it passes the full House. The Victims Compensation Fund, authorized by Congress in 2010 and again in 2015, provides compensation to firefighters, police officers, construction workers and others who courageously responded to the September 11 attacks. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

Mr. President, just now, members of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a bill to address the shortfall in the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which provides aids to the heroes, and the families of the heroes, who rushed to the towers selflessly on September the 11th, 2001.

Even in a divided Congress, even in a divided country, this is an issue of absolute moral clarity. On that fateful day, men and women of the FDNY, NYPD, EMS and the construction labor unions who rushed to Ground Zero were like our soldiers. Like our soldiers, they rushed towards danger, for our safety, without thinking of their own. And just as we don’t leave our soldiers behind on the battlefield, we must not leave the brave first responders behind when it comes to their health care.

Read more…

NY Magazine 6/12/19: The Long Fight to Secure 9/11 First Responder Funding


A History of the Long Fight to Secure Funding for 9/11 First Responders

First responder Luis Alvarez pictured with Jon Stewart on Tuesday. Alvarez will soon begin his 69th round of chemotherapy for cancer related to his exposure at Ground Zero. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

On Tuesday, former Daily Show host and frequent advocate for 9/11 first responders Jon Stewart appeared before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, encouraging representatives to vote on Wednesday to re-up the funding of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. But Stewart, who appeared alongside World Trade Center emergency workers, became frustrated when only a little over half of the subcommittee members showed up.

“I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,” he said. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.”

Read more…

NY Times 6/12/19: How Jon Stewart Became Fierce Advocate for 9/11 Responders

How Jon Stewart Became a Fierce Advocate for 9/11 Responders

“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” the former “Daily Show” host told lawmakers on Capitol Hill for not funding health care for emergency personnel.

Jon Stewart, the comedian and former host of “The Daily Show,” became emotional on Tuesday while speaking on Capitol Hill about the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He called lawmakers who skipped the House hearing “an embarrassment to the country.”CreditCreditZach Gibson/Getty Images

Jon Stewart, speaking on Capitol Hill about the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, was not the cool, detached comedian that television viewers are accustomed to.

Instead, faced with empty seats as he spoke on Tuesday to a House Judiciary subcommittee about a bill to secure funding for ailing Sept. 11 victims, the former host of “The Daily Show” was outraged, at times pounding his fist on the table, shouting at lawmakers and choking up as he came close to tears.

“It’s an embarrassment to the country,” Mr. Stewart said, criticizing members of Congress for skipping the hearing.

“And you should be ashamed of yourselves,” he scolded.

Read more…

NY Post 6/12/19: House Panel Unanimously Passes 9/11 Fund Bill After Stewart Shaming

House panel unanimously passes 9/11 victims fund bill after Jon Stewart shaming

Jon Stewart shames lawmakers for not showing up to 9/11 victims fund hearing

WASHINGTON — The bill that permanently authorizes the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund passed out of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously on Wednesday.

The move comes a day after former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart shamed members of a Judiciary subcommittee, as only Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and four subcommittee members were present for testimony from 9/11 first responders.

They included Luis Alvarez, a retired NYPD detective who was about to begin his 69th round of chemotherapy for liver cancer. There are 14 members of the subcommittee.

“It’s an embarrassment to the country and a stain on the institution and you should be ashamed of yourselves, for those who aren’t here, but you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber,” Stewart said Tuesday.

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Daily News 6/12/19: 9/11 VCF Bill Clears Committee, Headed for Full House Vote

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund clears committee, headed for full House vote

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund clears committee, headed for full House vote
Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart, left, is pictured before testifying during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Congress took the first step Wednesday to finally remedy its slow-motion response to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, passing a bill out of committee that would permanently fund compensation for ailing survivors and first responders.

“We have asked so much of our 9/11 responders and survivors. We relied on them to rush to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon under horrible conditions,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn).

“It is time for us to give responders and survivors peace of mind, once and for all, and pass this long-term reauthorization to ensure the [fund] will be there for them as long as they need it,” he said.

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Newsweek 6/12/19: Why Won’t Congress Fund the 9/11 First Responder Bill?

Why Won’t Congress Fund the 9/11 First Responders Bill?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he was unaware that there was legislation in play to permanently renew the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and that he had dealt with the issue in a compassionate way in the past.

“Gosh, I hadn’t looked at that lately. I’ll have to. We’ve always dealt with that in the past in a compassionate way, and I assume we will again,” he told reporters.
But during the last renewal fight in 2015, McConnell was instrumental in voting down a permanent version of the fund and only agreed to a temporary, five-year renewal after facing months of pressure from comedian Jon Stewart, an activist for the fund.

“So far, he has been an enormous obstacle, unwilling to move the bill forward for purely political reasons,” Stewart said of McConnell at the time. “He’s not nice.”

Stewart slammed Congress yesterday for failing to prioritize a permanent renewal for the fund, which provides health care and aid to first responders and those around Ground Zero after the 2001 attacks.

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Newsweek 6/11/19: Congress Has Duty to Help 9/11 Heroes

Congress has a duty to help our ailing 9/11 heroes

Detective Luis Alvarez’s heart-wrenching words Tuesday ought to settle the question immediately: Congress has a clear and urgent duty to replenish the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund.

Gaunt and rail-thin, the former NYPD cop testified: “I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11 like me are valued less than anyone else.”

This is not “a New York matter,” as many in the House and Senate seem to think, but a stain on the nation’s honor.

The fund helps cover the costs, mainly medical, suffered by the firefighters, cops, construction workers, etc., who spent weeks in the post-9/11 recovery and cleanup effort.

Just as the terrorists attacked America on that day, these Ground Zero workers served the entire nation in the months that followed. Even as the fires burned on into December, they searched and cleared the wreckage, leaving the site ready for reconstruction and the country able to begin to heal.

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