I am thrilled to report that this afternoon, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer & Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act.”
However, it is not a time to celebrate.
As happy as I am for the 9/11 Community in general, and our law firm’s 15,000+ responders and survivors (downtown office workers, residents, students and teachers), the 70 lawyers and staff at my law firm continue to be heartbroken over the explosion of cancers and deaths that we are seeing every day. This health crisis is certainly not going to stop now that Congress has fulfilled its moral obligation to “never forget”. But, at least it will be some solace to our brave responders and survivors, who believed the EPA’s lies about the quality of the World Trade Center air, that the Government will take care of them. This bill ensures that everyone who was impacted by the Victim Compensation Fund policy reductions will be made whole, and that anyone who is sickened in the future will receive compensation for their illnesses and lost income.
It Really Took a Village to Pass this Legislation
On behalf of my clients James Zadroga and Caryn Pfeifer (wife of Ray), and to Luis Alvarez with whom we walked the halls of Congress, we extend our thanks to the many people who worked together to ensure the passage of this bi-partisan legislation. This never would have been successful but for the leadership of the labor unions in general, and the Firefighter, EMS, and Police unions, the AFL-CIO and the NYCLC in particular. Thanks also to the United Federation of Teachers (and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers) who implored teachers throughout the country to call their representatives and demand that they vote in favor of the bill, and to Lila Nordstrom who spoke so eloquently in Congress on behalf of the former students who are now getting sick and dying. And thank you to all of the selfless doctors and nurses at the WTCHP who work so hard for the health of all 9/11 victims.
Enormous thanks to John Feal and the army of FealGood Foundation volunteers who invited me and my staff to join them on countless trips to D.C., meeting with legislators and demanding that they vote in favor of the bill.
And of course, we would remiss if we failed to acknowledge the critical role played by Jon Stewart. His advocacy and testimony shined a light on this issue. It’s a sad indictment on our country that we can’t seem to get people on both sides of the aisle to agree on anything without a celebrity shaming them. Thank goodness, those who originally objected felt that shame, woke up, and did the morally right thing!
Finally, a special thank you to Congresswoman Maloney, Congressmen Nadler and King, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, and Senator Gardner of Colorado. Their leadership was critical to winning this fight which started nearly 19 years ago.
It is an honor to represent the 9/11 Community and stand by your side.
With deep respect,