02.25.19

9/11 Responders & Survivors, Jon Stewart Join Members of Congress to Unveil the Bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act and Call for Swift Passage

Gardner, Gillibrand, Schumer announce bipartisan legislation to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and prevent announced cuts to compensation awards.

View video from press conference here

Washington, D.C. - 9/11 first responders, survivors, and their families joined with Jon Stewart, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with a group of their colleagues in the House to announce the bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act and call for its swift passage.

The bipartisan legislation would ensure that all 9/11 first responders and survivors who have been injured by the toxins at Ground Zero and have certified 9/11 illnesses would receive their full compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) now and into the future as more become ill with 9/11 cancers. The bill would also close the funding gap recently announced by the VCF Special Master. 

“I will never forget the images of the brave men and women running into danger to save lives during the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” said Senator Gardner. “Unfortunately, thousands of first responders and survivors, including many who reside in my home state of Colorado, suffer from illnesses and diseases from toxins at Ground Zero. I'm proud to join in introducing this bipartisan legislation to close funding gaps in the Victim Compensation Fund to make sure these heroes and their families receive the care they need and deserve."

“Just over a week ago, 9/11 heroes all over the country learned the horrible news that the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund will need to make severe cuts. Cancer rates in the 9/11 first responder community are rising faster than ever before, and that means our 9/11 heroes are going to need the VCF more urgently than ever before. Congress must not sit idly by ignoring this suffering and passing it off as someone else’s problem while drastic cuts are made to the VCF program,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must pass this bipartisan bill to make the VCF permanent with full funding so that when our 9/11 heroes get that terrifying call from the doctor, they’ll at least have the peace of mind that the VCF will be there for them and their families. We must honor our 9/11 heroes, and that means giving them the support they earned and deserve and urgently need.”

“We fought for and passed the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund to provide peace of mind to those sickened after the horrific attack,” said Senator Schumer. For too many, ailments and disease from exposure to that toxic airborne brew have taken years to show up and – as the need for the fund grows – the chance it may not have adequate resources to take care of our heroes is just unacceptable. There is no time to waste in passing the bill to fully fund –and make permanent--the VCF so that any 9/11first responder who might get sick will get the care they earned.”

“We have a grand opportunity to finally do the right thing and allow those who always answered the call for us to know that we have their backs,” said Jon Stewart.

Background

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 be closing next year just as thousands more 9/11 responders and survivors are expected to be diagnosed with 9/11 cancers.

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.

NOTE: Full video of press conference available here

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