This week, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), Chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus and Co-chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, was joined by Zadroga family attorney Michael Barasch and local first responders from across the region to urge passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, legislation that would permanently reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical monitoring, treatment and compensation for first responders at the World Trade Center. The legislation is named in honor of James Zadroga, a North Arlington, NJ. resident and New York City Police Department detective who died of pulmonary fibrosis that was attributed to his 200 hours working at Ground Zero in the rescue and recovery operations following the September 11th attacks.
In a press conference held at James Zadroga Park in North Arlington, NJ, overlooking the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline, Barasch thanked Representative Pascrell for his unwavering support for the entire 9/11 community. “My firm is proud to represent Detective Zadroga’s family. But, Jimmy was just one of the many police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel who responded to the horrific attacks at the World Trade Center. They were all exposed to the same highly toxic dust from the collapse of the Twin Towers. Tens of thousands of these brave men and women have developed life- threatening pulmonary illnesses; thousands more have been diagnosed with one of the 67 cancers that NIOSH has linked to the dust. We cannot ignore their suffering”.
“James Zadroga’s selfless sacrifice represents the best our nation has to offer, so it’s fitting this legislation is named in his honor,” stated Pascrell, an original member of the House Homeland Security Committee and a current member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. “Many of the 9/11 heroes and survivors still suffer the effects of the airborne toxins at Ground Zero, and under no circumstance should they be left holding the bag for their medical costs. I’ll continue to fight for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act in order to do right by these heroes and continue the progress we have made since the law’s initial passage. It’s our obligation to care for the innocent victims that worked on our nation’s behalf for the days, weeks and months after we were attacked,” Pascrell concluded.
Along with providing medical monitoring and treatment for 9/11 first responders, the legislation would also extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provides monetary compensation for those physically injured by the attacks or by response activities and debris removal. These programs would be made permanent under the reauthorization.
“By permanently reauthorizing this important legislation, we can ensure that my son’s legacy will be carried on and that our 9/11 heroes get the care they have earned and deserve,” stated Joseph Zadroga, the father of James Zadroga and a retired North Arlington Police Chief. “I’d like to thank Congressman Pascrell for fighting on behalf of the brave first responders that risked their own lives on that fateful day in September 2001 to save others.”
Congress first passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act in 2010, of which Rep. Pascrell was an original cosponsor. Included in those receiving medical treatment under the law are over 3,900 incidences of 9/11-related cancer. The Zadroga Act also reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which has made over 1,300 compensation determinations and has deemed 10,549 injured 9/11 individuals eligible for compensation.
The legislation has provided medical monitoring and treatment to the over 33,000 people exposed to harmful toxins and dust on the scene, including 3,881 first responders and 513 survivors from New Jersey.
“Congressman Pascrell recognizes the responsibility and moral obligation we have for the 366 people in his Congressional District who suffer from the aftermath of 9/11, along with the more than 4,700 from the great state of NJ who suffer the same fate,” stated John Feal, a 9/11 advocate who was injured during rescue operations at Ground Zero. “More importantly, Congressman Pascrell has demonstrated the leadership it takes to ensure the more than 70,000 9/11 heroes from across our great nation that are still suffering have access to the care they are entitled to.”
“It is with public events like the one today that Congressman Pascrell is hosting that we will be able to shine the spotlight on the health issues facing 9/11 responders and survivors in order to get Congress to renew and make permanent the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act,” stated Benjamin Chevat, Executive Director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga