On 9/11, Which Presidential Candidates Are All Talk and No Action?


Posted: September 6, 2015


Benjamin Chevat

New York, NY – Most of the major presidential candidates have pledged to “never forget 9/11” and praised the heroism of 9/11 first responders – and all will do so on the fourteenth anniversary of 9/11 later this week. However, only a handful of the candidates are matching their words of praise with a commitment to help those who are still suffering because of the attacks.

Today, advocates for 9/11 first responders and survivors called upon the major candidates to tell the American people, by Friday’s anniversary, whether they support renewing federal aid for those who are sick and dying because of the attacks. Please click here to see which candidates have already spoken up for 9/11 rescuers. Health care and compensation programs to help these Americans, signed into law in 2010, will expire unless this Congress renews the programs by passing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. Last month, the advocates sent a brief questionnaire to each of the candidates – a copy of which follows below.

“‘Remember 9/11’ should be more than a bumper sticker. For those who would be Commander-in-Chief, we want to know: will you actually help those who are sick and dying because of 9/11, or are your words of thanks just empty talk?” said Richard Alles, Deputy Chief of the New York City Fire Department and Board Member of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.

“I am glad to see press reports that former Governors Rick Perry of Texas, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island and our own former governor George Pataki have stepped up in a bipartisan manner and declared their support.  They have joined former Senator Clinton and current Senator and sponsor of the legislation Bernie Sanders in supporting injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors.  But most have remained silent. And some, like Lindsey Graham, a current U.S. Senator whose office has met with 9/11 responders, say they are still ‘reviewing’ the issue – even though the bill to reauthorize 9/11 health care was introduced in April.

“This is ridiculous — what if 9/11 rescuers said they had to ‘study the issue’ before running into the Twin Towers? These people are running for President of the United States. This is not the hardest question that they will be facing.

So, we’re giving the candidates another chance and asking them to join this effort and declare their support by this Friday. It’s the fourteenth anniversary of the attacks – we don’t want to hear any more rhetoric or thank-yous, just a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” said Alles.

More than 33,000 Americans have illnesses or injuries that were caused by 9/11, primarily due to the toxic smoke and rubble that lingered in lower Manhattan for months after the attacks. These Americans -both first responders who came from around the country to help at Ground Zero, as well as survivors of the attacks- live in every state and 429 of 435 Congressional districts nationwide.

Some straightforward questions for the people who want to be the leader of the Free World, below is a copy of the letter:

I am writing to you on behalf of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act Inc. of which I am member of its Board of Directors.  I am currently a Deputy Chief for the New York City Fire Department and was a first responder to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and the days and months afterwards.

With the approaching 14th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I am writing to all candidates for President on behalf of all 70,000 9/11 responders to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Shanksville crash site and survivors from the World Trade Center attack, who come from every State and almost all 429 of 435 Congressional districts and are currently receiving medical treatment and medical monitoring from the World Trade Center Health Program as well as the thousands who have applied for compensation for their injuries from the reopened September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

These programs that were created by James Zadroga Act which was finally passed in 2010 – will shut down next year in October 2016, unless Congress takes action and passes the bipartisan James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization, HR. 1786/ S 928.

Unless Congress acts some 33,000 injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors, of which over 3,700 currently have a 9/11 cancer– will lose their medical treatment.

Unless Congress acts, the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund will shut down just days after the 15th Anniversary of the attacks and 9/11 responders and survivors seeking compensation could end up receiving 50% less in help than they are expecting– and those that develop cancer in the coming years from their exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero will have nowhere to turn, facing massive medical bills and massive worry for the future.

We are all familiar with 9/11 and the events in days after, when thousands responded to the attacks on the Twin towers, the Pentagon and the Shanksville crash site.  The nation and its leaders said that they would “Never Forget 9/11”.

Sadly, all too often that phrase has been empty rhetoric from Washington politicians. It took Congress nine years to pass the Zadroga Act for a limited five-year period–even as responders got sick and started to die from their injuries. Over 85 NYPD Police officers and over 110 FDNY Firefighters have died from their 9/11 injuries since 9/11, and nearly every week there is another press report about a responder dying from their 9/11-caused illness.

Now we are waiting to see if Congress will take action and make these programs permanent.

In order to make an informed choice in the 2016 presidential election, we would like to know your position on renewing the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation fund and making them both permanent and fully funded.

So we are asking all the candidates, of both parties the following questions.

1. As a Candidate for President, will you join in urging Congress to pass HR. 1786/ S928?

2. If you were elected President would you sign HR 1786/ S 928 if it was passed by Congress?

3. If you answered “No” to urging Congress to pass the bill or to signing the bill into law, please explain why.

Thank you for cooperating with our survey.

We all know that the world has changed since 9/11. But America has always protected it’s own. I believe that the thousands of responders and survivors of the 9/11 attacks have earned the nation’s support.

We plan to publish the responses we receive.


Richard Alles
Deputy Fire Chief
Uniformed Fire Officers Association
Board Member, Citizens for the Extension of the
James Zadroga Act, Inc.