Gardner, Gillibrand Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Permanently Reauthorize and Fund Victim Compensation Fund for 9/11 Heroes and Their Families
Washington, DC– Following the recent announcement that the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) could run out of funding before its expiration date in 2020, and with cancer rates among 9/11 first responders starting to increase 17 years after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and U.S. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Peter T. King (R-NY-2) today announced bipartisan legislation to permanently reauthorize and fund the VCF. The bipartisan legislation would ensure that 9/11 first responders who become sick with certified 9/11 illnesses in the future would be covered by the VCF program.
“I’ll never forget the images and video of brave women and men running into danger to help save thousands of people,” said Senator Gardner. “These heroes now live across the country, including in Colorado, and have sacrificed so much. After all they have done for us, our nation cannot and will not turn its back on them. This bipartisan group will work relentlessly to advance our legislation to provide them the care they deserve.”
“Thousands of firefighters, police officers, federal and local law enforcement officers, medical workers, construction workers, and other heroes risked their lives for us after we were attacked on 9/11. They didn’t back down when we needed them, and now, as cancer rates in the 9/11 first responder community are higher than ever and the 9/11 death toll continues to rise 17 years after the attacks, Congress needs to stand up for them,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We simply cannot turn our backs on our 9/11 heroes and let the Victim Compensation Fund expire. I urge my colleagues to do the right thing, protect our heroes and their families, and pass this bipartisan bill to permanently reauthorize the VCF now. Anything less would send a cruel message to our heroes and their families that Congress is shrugging their shoulders at their suffering. We can and must pass this vitally important bipartisan bill now.”
The terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 killed 2,997 and injured thousands in New York City, Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon. In the years since, tens of thousands more men and women, including first responders, relief workers, and local residents, have lost their lives or gotten sick as a result of exposure to a toxic cocktail of burning chemicals, pulverized drywall and powdered cement. Scientists have found numerous cancers can lie dormant for more than 20 years before turning deadly. This year alone, the number of cancer certifications by the World Trade Center Health Program reached over 10,000 cases. The 20 year milestone is soon approaching and these latent diseases are continuing to manifest. New claims will continue to rise as we reach the expiration of the current Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) in 2020. Already, the VCF has approved over 19,204 claims.
S. 3591, led in the Senate by Senators Gardner, Gillibrand, and Chuck Schumer has 15 additional cosponsors: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert Casey (D-PA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
H.R. 7062, is led in the House of Representatives by Representatives Maloney, Nadler, and King, and has 36 additional cosponsors, including: Thomas Suozzi (D-NY-03), Ted Poe (R-TX-02), Kathleen Rice (D-NY-04), Chris Smith (R-NJ-04), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05), Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07), Grace Meng (D-NY-06), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ-03), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-07), Daniel Donovan (R-NY-11), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08), Claudia Tenney (R-NY-22), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10), Joseph Crowley (D-NY-14), José Serrano (D-NY-15), Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), Brian Higgins (D-NY-26), Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01), Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09), Greg Meeks (D-NY-5), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-9), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), David Price (D-NC-04), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT-05), Brendan Boyle (D-PA-13), Kristen Sinema (D-AZ-09), Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32), David Cicilline (D-RI-01), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08), Karen Bass (D-CA-37), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24).
Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Budget Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.
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