Statement from Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act on the Scheduling of a Vote on HR 1327 — “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act”
Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act want to thank Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King and the other over 300 sponsors of the legislation in the House for working to bring the bill to the floor for a vote this Friday July 12th. This is another step on the path to get the help needed by injured and ill 9/11 responders, survivors and their families. 9/11 responders and survivors have worked hard to get the Congress to act and this scheduled vote is real progress to getting this done. We hope that after the House passes the legislation by what is expected to be a wide bipartisan margin tomorrow, that Senator McConnell will be true to his word and will move the legislation quickly in the Senate before the August recess.
The release today of the Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimate of the legislation confirms what many in the 9/11 community know all too well; the numbers of cancers impacting the lives of 9/11 responders and survivors is tragically growing and will be growing in the coming years. Nearly every other day, another responder or survivor reportedly dies from a 9/11 related cancer and that is why we need a program that is fully funded and will last for the coming years. Congress must no longer force 9/11 responders and survivors to have to keep coming back to Washington seeking the help they need.
These are the facts today:
- There are more than 49,000 people in the World Trade Center Health program suffering from at least one certified 9/11 condition caused by the toxins at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville crash site; a large percentage have multiple conditions.
- Chronic diseases like asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and cancer continue to plague those who were exposed to the many toxins and carcinogens on 9/11 and in the weeks and months after.
- Over 12,000 of those enrolled in the Health Program have been certified with a 9/11 related cancer, with more that are being diagnosed every day. Thousands more who have been diagnosed with cancer are only now joining the health program, so these numbers will increase dramatically.
- 9/11 responders and survivors in the Health Program are in all 50 States and in 433 out of 435 Congressional Districts.
Remember, it was the Federal Government that said the air was safe to breathe.
It was also the Federal Government that refused for years to take responsibility, to do the research and respond to the health crisis that is facing so many.
We know that the sponsors of the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act,” Representatives Maloney, Nadler and King and the Senate lead sponsors Senators Gillibrand, Schumer and Gardner, along with their colleagues from both sides of the aisle will be working to get this legation before the President to be signed.
On February 15, 2019, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund announced that due to a funding shortfall, injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors will receive cuts to the awards that they were expecting of 50% for pending claims and 70% for future claims.
In the years since 9/11/2001, thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors have become ill and many have lost their lives from exposure to a toxic cocktail of burning chemicals, pulverized drywall and powdered cement that was present at Ground Zero. After years of urging Congress to act, in 2010 and again in 2015, legislation was passed to provide medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program and compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for thousands made sick by the toxins at Ground Zero as well at the Pentagon and the Shanksville, PA crash site. Now, after waiting years for compensation that they need and deserve, thousands are facing dramatically reduced awards and unless Congress acts, the VCF will actually close next year just as thousands more 9/11 responders and survivors are expected to be diagnosed with 9/11 cancers. Over 800 injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors have already received awards that have been cut and that number is growing every day.
This legislation is designed to ensure that the VCF is fully funded and will remain open for those that will become ill in the future.