Statement on the Adoption of the Gillibrand Amendment to the Omnibus Spending Bill Providing Funding for the World Trade Center Health Program
We are grateful that Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer were able to add to the Omnibus spending agreement, with overwhelming support by a vote of 90 to 6, funds for the World Trade Center Health Program to deal with the impending funding deficit shortfall and for authorization to create a research cohort to track and study the health impacts on those who were children in lower Manhattan at the time of the attack.
While we had hoped that the legislation would have resolved the funding gap fully and permanently, and we had hoped it would allow all Pentagon and Shanksville responders, especially those who were then members of the active-duty military and civilian Defense Department employees to join the World Trade Center Health Program, today’s amendment is a good start.
With this legislative amendment, the impact of the funding deficit will be delayed, which will allow the program to continue to welcome and serve injured responders and survivors—rather than beginning to turn them away in October 2024.
Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act would like to thank Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, and Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) along with the entire bipartisan New York delegation for their efforts in this Congress on behalf of 9/11 responders and survivors.
With the new Congress taking office in January 2023, Citizens for the Extension is looking forward to working with Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Garbarino (R NY) and the rest of the bipartisan New York delegation and others to complete the work begun this year and pass a permanent funding mechanism as well as fix the gap in coverage for Defense Department and other federal responders to the Pentagon and the Shanksville crash site.
Provisions of the Gillibrand Amendment that was adopted:
1) Additional Funding for the World Trade Center Health Program
This section would create a new fund that would provide an additional $1 billion dollars to the program over the next ten years. This would address the deficit in the short term and push back the date when cuts would have to be implemented, and services and care denied to 9/11 responders and survivors. This funding would be paid for by using already appropriated but unused funds in the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
2) Authorize Research Cohort for Emerging Health Impacts on Youth
This amendment would authorize the World Trade Center Health Program to develop a cohort for study so it can better understand the impact of the WTC disaster on those who were children. Among the approximately 360,000 World Trade Center survivors were more than 35,000 people who were children at the time of and immediately after the attack and who resided in or attended school or childcare in the NYC disaster area.
Children are extremely vulnerable to harm from both toxic exposures and psychological trauma and there are continuing reports of severe health impacts to this population now that they are adults. However, the program was not authorized to create a research cohort to be used to study the impact of the toxins released in the attacks on this population until now.