We are thrilled to report that this morning, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) agreed to co-sponsor the Senate’s version of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act extension. The pending bill is sponsored in the House by Congressman Peter King (R-NY), Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). It is sponsored in the Senate by Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.
We now have 59 Senators who have publicly agreed to support the bill. Just as important, we are up to 224 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. While we now have a clear majority in both Houses, we still have much more work to do. We want this to be a unanimous, bilateral, permanent extension. At a time when the American people think that Congress can’t accomplish anything, this is a great opportunity for legislators to show the country that they can get together to pass this non-partisan bill. We acknowledge that none of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts of Congressman Peter King. Mr. King has been the driving force behind efforts to convince fellow republicans to embrace the extension
Last week, Mike Barasch joined John Feal and two dozen first responders in Washington to meet Congressmen who had not yet voiced their support. Prior to making their rounds, Barasch and Feal visited Mr. King’s office and expressed their appreciation to him and his staff for all their support.
We educated the legislators about concerns that while the World Trade Center Health Program may have enough money to last through next spring, human nature is such that the doctors who know 9/11 illnesses best will soon begin to look for new jobs if they know that the funding will run out next year. We discussed the recent NYPD study by Cornell and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital which has noted a 50% increase in cancers among police officers who worked at Ground Zero. Finally, we warned legislators that victims would receive less than 50% of their Victim Compensation Fund awards, unless the act was reauthorized.
We reminded the Representatives that the terrorists attacked all Americans on 9/11, not just New York City and not just republicans or democrats. First responders got sick working at Ground Zero breathing toxic air that the EPA assured them was “safe”. When they sifted through the debris, in unimaginable conditions, the police officers, firefighters, construction workers and sanitation workers didn’t ask victims for their political party affiliation. Local residents and workers didn’t question the government’s declarations. “Ideally, we would like every member of Congress to get behind this legislation. We will not rest until this bill is passed,” said Barasch.
As always, we will keep you appraised of all developments.