Maloney, Nadler, King Announce Half of House of Representatives Now Cosponsoring Bill to Fully Fund and Renew the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
WASHINGTON, DC– Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY), chief House sponsors of the bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act today announced that the bill has the support of more than half of the House of Representatives. 226 total members of the House now are now cosponsoring the bill.
The bipartisan legislation would ensure that all 9/11 first responders and survivors who have been injured by the toxins at Ground Zero and have certified 9/11 illnesses would receive their full compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) now and into the future as more become ill with 9/11-related diseases. The bill would also close the funding gap announced earlier this year by the VCF Special Master.
“We’re incredibly proud that a majority of the House believes we must fulfil our promise to ‘Never Forget’ those harmed by 9/11 and we’re not done yet. We intend to keep working with our partners in Congress and in the 9/11 community to secure the support of the overwhelming majority of the House as we move this bill through the process.
“We could never have reached this milestone without the countless hours spent by first responders, survivors, and family members of victims advocating for this bill and the VCF program. These men and women, many of whom are suffering from 9/11-related diseases, are heroes and we are eternally grateful for all they are doing on behalf of the tens of thousands of people from all over the country that they represent. We cannot let them down.”
A 600-ton crane hoisted the six stone monoliths that will flank the 9/11 Memorial Glade. Photo by Jin S. Lee, 9/11 Memorial.
Over the weekend, six multiton granite monoliths were installed on the 9/11 Memorial as the essential centerpiece of the 9/11 Memorial Glade. The Glade will honor those who are sick or who have died from 9/11-related illnesses caused by exposure to toxins in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
The monoliths, each weighting between 13 and 17.8 tons and created by the Rock of Ages granite manufacturing company in Barre, Vt., traveled six hours south on flatbed trucks through the Green Mountains and the rolling hills of New England. They were escorted by a team of eight personnel from the Vermont Division of Fire Safety.
As the team assisted the trucks on their way to New York City, local first responders in communities along the way saluted the monoliths on the highway overpasses to recognize the importance and national significance of this project.
The monoliths were lifted over the 9/11 Memorial on Saturday by a 600-ton crane. Steel salvaged from the original World Trade Center will be incorporated into each of the monoliths.
Even as the nation’s capital was caught up in the frenzy over the Mueller Report, advocates for the reauthorization of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund were working the corridors of Congress to advance their cause.
“In a way, the distraction of the Mueller Report was a welcomed opportunity for us because we had the full attention of the administrative assistants who we met with,” said Michael Barasch, the attorney for the late NYPD Detective James Zadroga, for whom the original World Trade Center health-and-compensation bill was named.
Already Reduced Payouts
Last year, Rupa Bhattacharyya, the Special Master for the 9/11 VCF, announced that as a consequence of a dramatic spike in the number of 9/11 wrongful-death and WTC-related cancer claims, the $7.3-billion fund would have to greatly reduce the size of its payouts. Without reauthorization, the program is slated to close late next year.
“We are getting 50 percent of what everybody else was getting with exactly the same cancer before Feb. 1,” Mr. Barasch said in a phone interview. “Colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, that were all getting $250,000 before Feb. 1, are now getting $125,000—even if their case had been pending for well over a year. This is hitting our police and fire widows as well.”
Two dozen city workers have finally been granted unlimited sick leave as they fight the illnesses linked to their time at Ground Zero — as critics hammer Mayor de Blasio for doling out the much-needed help on a chaotic, piecemeal basis, the Daily News has learned.
The added sick leave coverage comes six months after de Blasio approved the special sick leave for DC37, one of the city’s largest unions — vowing the agreement would form the basis for additional pacts with unions whose workers suffer with a 9/11 illness.
A bipartisan group of congressional representatives from New York called for permanent funding of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was set up to help World Trade Center first responders and survivors seeking money for healthcare. A recent report says the program will soon be out of money.
U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin of New York was one of the members who urged Congress to pass the Never Forget the Heroes Act.
“This is unacceptable. Regardless of party affiliation, regardless of which district or state you come from, it is imperative that this legislation is passed and sent to the president immediately to become law so we can ensure these victims deserve the compensation they deserve.”
It has been more than 17 years since the World Trade Center collapsed in the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, and since 2011, a rededicated fund has compensated emergency personnel and others who responded to the scene and have since gotten sick, as well as the families of the deceased.
But with medical claims on the rise, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is running out of money: Already, more than $5 billion of the $7.375 billion it was allotted in 2015 to give away over five years has been spent.
The fund’s special master announced in mid-February that it would be necessary to slash in half the payouts for those already waiting in line; new claimants could see payments cut by as much as 70 percent.
The severe reductions have sparked a renewed push in Congress to press for more money to replenish the depleted fund — resurrecting fears of another protracted battle with Senate Republicans, who nearly quashed the fund in 2011.