Now it’s the Senate’s duty to move fast for hurting 9/11 heroes
Jon Stewart (R), the former host of “The Daily Show,” talks with former NYPD Bomb Squad Detective Louis Alvarez before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.EPA
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.