Mike Barasch attended a press conference at Ground Zero where several NY area Congressmen urged their colleagues—particularly House Republican leaders—to bring the WTC Zadroga extension bill to a vote. Barasch joined politicians, union leaders and dozens of responders to urge passage. Several survivors, including Barasch’s client Joe Zadroga, spoke of the health and financial hardships they and their families have endured since the attacks.
“All of these people put their own safety on the line to help their fellow countrymen,” Congresswoman Maloney said. “And in the weeks that followed they climbed through the rubble, sifted through the wreckage, tried to find bodies. They breathed the air, which was a toxic mix of heavy glass, concrete, dangerous chemicals. They rushed to the scene to save lives. But today, their lives need saving.”
Congressman Nadler recounted the misinformation handed out in the early days, arguing that the Federal Government had a special responsibility to care for the victims because EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman famously declared the air was “safe to breathe” just days after the attacks.
The survivors who gathered in the plaza last week put the lie to that claim. One after the other, they described the illnesses that have been linked by NIOSH to the WTC toxic dust and how the World Trade Center Health Program has saved their lives.
FDNY Chief Medical Officer David Prezant spoke for the 1,100 members of his department afflicted with Sept. 11thcancers. They make up just a fraction of the more than 33,000 people sickened or injured in the attacks and their aftermath, 3,700 of whom have cancer. The Police Department has already lost 85 members to related illness, and the Fire Department at least 111. “We need Congress to reauthorize the Zadroga Act now”, he said.
Peter King, a Republican from Long Island, assured the crowd that the extension bill will pass. “One way or another we’re going to get it through. There’s no excuse.” While the renewal bill is widely expected to pass if Congressman Boehner allows it to come to a floor vote, members of Congress may try to put limits on its cost or timeframe. The bill currently has 115 co-sponsors in the House and 28 in the Senate.