2-15-2021: NY Daily News – NYC Politicians Urge 9/11 Victims to get Covid Vaccines, but Too Little, Too Late

Although New York City politicians have encouraged 9/11 victims and responders to get Covid vaccines, many claim that they should have been given access much sooner because 9/11 victims suffer disproportionately from pulmonary conditions.

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1/21/2021: National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Former Stuyvesant Student Becomes 9/11 Advocate for Fellow Students

Lila Nordstrom was 17 years old and a high school student at Stuyvesant in downtown Manhattan when the 9/11 disaster struck. When about to graduate from college, she heard about some of her former fellow students starting to get sick from 9/11-related conditions. She decided to write her elected officials and become an advocate for young people affected by 9/11 to seek health care.

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2/16/2021: Message from the VCF Special Master

The Special Master of the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund issued the following message in conjunction with the issuance of its Ninth Annual Report of the Fund:

Message from the Special Master 

February 16, 2021

While it is impossible to review the past year without mention of the enormous challenges presented by COVID-19, and its particularly severe impact on the 9/11 community, I am proud to report that the VCF’s work on their behalf continued with almost no disruption throughout 2020. Because this report is designed to summarize the year, it includes details of how the VCF overcame some specific impacts of COVID-19, but more importantly, it provides a comprehensive review of a very successful 2020, which ended with the VCF having communicated awards totaling nearly $7.76 billion to over 34,400 individuals over the course of its ten years in operation.

We began the year energized and inspired by the opportunities provided by the July 2019 passage of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (“VCF Permanent Authorization Act”). Relieved to have what we thought was a very challenging year of unprecedented change behind us, we set ambitious internal goals for 2020 and focused on what needed to happen to transition the program to reflect its new permanent status.

That transition continues apace, focused on the operational sustainability of the program, providing enhanced service to claimants that lead to timely and equitable awards, and, as always, reducing the time it takes for an award to be made. At the same time, we remain committed to enhancing our outreach efforts to ensure that every person who might be eligible for a VCF award is aware of the program and has the resources and support they need to register and file a claim. There is more information on our efforts to expand and enhance the accessibility of information about the VCF – including our newly redesigned website – in the pages ahead.

I am particularly pleased to report on our overall productivity this year. In early March, given the emergence of COVID-19, the VCF team transitioned to a nearly all-remote workforce in a matter of days, with almost no interruptions to our work. As The Year in Numbers on page five confirms, we maintained or exceeded all measures of productivity, with the exception of our Appeals process, which slowed down in our effort to protect vulnerable claimants in the New York area, but came back strong through the ingenuity of our hearings team, and the cooperation of claimants and their representatives. (See page 14 for details.)

As we look to 2021, it is worth noting that we began 2019 with great uncertainty about the future of the VCF as funds were being expended much more quickly than expected, and yet, against all odds, we ended that year with the best possible outcome. With funding assured, we began 2020 with great optimism, ready to chart a strong and sustainable course for the future of the VCF, and despite COVID-19, we have persevered. And while some uncertainty remains as we begin this New Year, I am confident that whatever comes our way, the VCF team is well-prepared and well-positioned to continue advancing our vital mission on behalf of the 9/11 community we so proudly serve.


Rupa Bhattacharyya

CBS News 6/24/19: Mitch McConnell to Meet with First Responders About 9/11 Bill

Mitch McConnell to meet with 9/11 first responders after blistering Capitol Hill testimony

After previously claiming former Daily Show host Jon Stewart was “all bent out of shape” about the need to reauthorize the  9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be changing his tune. The top Senate Republican is now slated to meet face-to-face with members of the first responders community to discuss the need to provide vital health care benefits to those who saved thousands during the attacks on September 11, 2001.

John Feal, a 9/11 recovery worker and the founder of the FealGood Foundation, confirmed to CBS News that McConnell has agreed to meet with a group of first responders to discuss the need to reauthorize the legislation first established nine years ago to help those with illnesses related to the 2001 terror attacks. The legislation has been brought back to the forefront after Stewart delivered a blistering rebuke of Congressional inaction on the measure just as the fund is running short of money.

Asked what he had hoped to accomplish with the meeting, Feal told CBS News: “To let him know we want our legislation refunded and extended in the near future and to sense our urgency and then be left alone.” He later said, “So he is either on board or he gets a street fight.”

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Daily News 6/23/19: Push for Passage of 9/11 VCF Bill in Full Press

Push for passage of Victim Compensation Fund extension in full press this week

Push for passage of Victim Compensation Fund extension in full press this week
Retired Fire Department of New York Lieutenant and 9/11 responder Michael O’Connell, on left, FealGood Foundation co-founder John Feal, center right, and Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart, right, speak to Retired New York Police Department detective and 9/11 responder Luis Alvarez 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. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is meeting Tuesday with 9/11 first responders who’ve been pushing him to move aggressively to pass a new funding bill to care for Sept. 11 heroes and survivors, even as yet another of them lies dying.

Pressure has mounted on McConnell (R-Ky) since first responders, including cancer-stricken former NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez and comedian Jon Stewart gave heart-wrenching testimony to Congress a little over a week ago about the Victim Compensation Fund, which is running out of money.

Alvarez left that hearing for what would have been his 69th round of chemotherapy, but doctors discovered when he arrived that his liver was no longer functioning and there was nothing they could do.

Alvarez is now in hospice, still hoping Congress will act. “I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time,” he posted on Facebook after hearing from his doctors.

His fellow first responders will go to Washington for him.

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NY Post 6/23/19: Trump To Meet About 9/11 Funding Bill This Week

Trump: ‘We’ll see what happens’ with 9/11 victims fund

Host Chuck Todd asked the president during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that as a New Yorker does he believe Stewart’s accusation that McConnell is standing in the way of reauthorizing the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.“I liked what Jon Stewart did. I actually did. And I actually have a meeting on that subject next week. So we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

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Daily News 6/21/19: City Passes Bill Giving Unlimited Sick Leave to City Workers with 9/11 Illnesses

Lawmakers pass bill providing unlimited sick leave for city workers with 9/11 illnesses in spite of de Blasio pushback

Lawmakers pass bill providing unlimited sick leave for city workers with 9/11 illnesses in spite of de Blasio pushback
(Monaster, Tom)

ALBANY — City workers with illnesses linked to Sept.11 could soon see their right to unlimited sick leave enshrined into law.

State legislators gave final approval early Friday to a bill that would grant all city employees suffering from 9/11-related illnesses guaranteed access to time off — bypassing Mayor de Blasio, who currently doles out time through the city’s unions.

“We think this is the fair and right thing to do, to support those who supported us,” said sponsor Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn). “This right should be universal and unequivocal, not subject to any collective bargaining agreements, not subject to the whims of any mayoral administration.”

City officials argued that the bill is unnecessary, noting that nearly all of the unions representing city employees have finalized sick leave agreements and that 101 employees with diagnosed 9/11-related conditions are being helped.

FDNY and NYPD civilian workers who don’t normally get unlimited sick leave, EMTs, and paramedics would all be covered under the bill. A similar piece of legislation granting unlimited paid sick leave to state employees with a 9/11-related illness outside of the city was signed into law in 2017.

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Open Secrets News 6/21/19: The 9/11 VCF Bill that Special Interests Aren’t Interested In

OpenSecrets News

The 9/11 victim compensation bill special interests aren’t interested in

9/11Jon Stewart and Retired New York Police Department detective and 9/11 responder Luis Alvarez following a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

He isn’t a registered lobbyist, but comedian Jon Stewart may have already made a bigger impact this year than most influencers in Washington. Following last week’s fiery testimony from the former “Daily Show” host, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill to fund continued benefits for those harmed by the 9/11 terror attacks. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provides benefits to those developing health issues related to the terror attack, will run out of money without additional funding from Congress. The bill that would extend funding for the program through 2090, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), is expected to pass the House with ease. It would then go to the upper chamber, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is locked in a feud with Stewart over the comedian’s criticism.

NY Post 6/17/19: Jon Stewart Dares McConnell to Meet With First Responders

Stewart dares McConnell to meet 9/11 first responders

Jon Stewart fired back at Sen. Mitch McConnell Monday, explaining why he’s so “bent out of shape” over securing health care for 9/11 responders — and challenging the Senate majority leader to meet with the ailing heroes on Tuesday.

The former host of “The Daily Show” was responding to McConnell’s interview on “Fox & Friends,” where the Kentucky Republican promised to “take care” of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund after digs from Stewart.

“We have never failed to address this issue. And we will address it again,” McConnell said Monday. “I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape. We will take care of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.”


Daily News 6/17/19: Stewart Admits He is “Bent out of Shape” About the 9/11 VCF Bill

Jon Stewart admits he’s ‘bent out of shape’ about 9/11 victims bill, says Senate leader McConnell needs to act on measure

Jon Stewart admits he’s ‘bent out of shape’ about 9/11 victims bill, says Senate leader McConnell needs to act on measure
Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart lends his support to firefighters, first responders and survivors of the September 11 terror attacks at a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee as it considers permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, June 11. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Comedian Jon Stewart took umbrage Monday at Sen. Mitch McConnell’s complaint that he’s “bent out of shape” over Congressional inaction on a plan to establish a permanent compensation program for ailing 9/11 victims and first responders.

“I am bent out of shape for them,” Stewart said during an appearance on CBS’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

“These were the first heroes and veterans and victims of the great trillions-of-dollars war on terror, and they are currently suffering and dying in a terrible way,” Stewart said. “You would think that would be enough to get Congress’s attention, but apparently it’s not.”

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