06.11.19

Gardner Takes to Senate Floor to Press For Swift Passage of 9/11 Compensation Bill

“We didn’t know what was going to happen on September 11th. But for the thousands of people involved at Ground Zero we know what will happen if Congress fails to Act and it is unacceptable.”

Washington, D.C.  – Today, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to quickly pass the bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.

The bipartisan legislation would ensure that all 9/11 first responders and survivors who 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. 

Click here to view Senator Gardner’s remarks.

Rush transcript below:

Thank you, Madam President. I rise today to urge for the swift passage of the bipartisan legislation I am leading with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand known as the Never Forget the Heroes permanent authorization of the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund Act. 

I'll never forget the images of the brave men and women running into danger to save lives during the September 11th terrorist attacks.

You know, I never had the privilege honor of going to New York City prior to September 11th, 2001, but I'll never forget my first visit after September 11th, 2001 going to ground zero, watching the fire trucks, their flag heading to Ground Zero to continue the work that had by then become absolutely emblazoned in the people of this country's mind.

The work that they did wasn't just for those in Manhattan suffered incredible loss, but the work they carried forward for our country, they became symbols of our security, symbols of our freedoms, symbols of our country's willingness, effort, and tenacity to fight back. 

This legislation would ensure that all 9/11 first responders and survivors who've been injured by the toxins at Ground Zero would receive their full compensation through the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund now and into the future as more and more become ill with 9/11 related cancers. 

When I visited Ground Zero, I'll never forget that smell: burning acrid odor.

These men and women didn't just visit once, but time and time again to carry out the cleanup of Ground Zero. Unfortunately thousands of first responders and survivors including many who reside in my home state of Colorado, now suffer from illnesses and diseases from these toxins that they inhaled day after day after day in the recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

It is unacceptable for this Congress to fail these heroes and their families. It is unacceptable to fail these families and the heroes of September 11th, there is no time to waste.

As Congress debates this issue, more and more people are becoming ill, more and more people are suffering. And today, people like Lou Alvarez came to Washington D.C., postponing a chemotherapy treatment, to advocate for his fellow heroes. 

The Fund expires at the end of this year if we do not act. These men and women have already been forced to reduce their compensation and we’ve seen a reduction in their compensation to the 9/11 first responders due to the impending insolvency. Jon Stewart, a longtime advocate for the 9/11 responders, testified today before the house judiciary committee expressing the urgency of making sure these first responders receive the care they deserve to receive. Talking to the members of Committee in the House about the need to act now because time is of the essence, he said, “that these men and women responded in five seconds; they did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity, humility.”

Eighteen years later it is time for Congress to do its job, and that’s what I hope my colleagues will do. Do our job, pass this important bipartisan legislation recognizing the service, the sacrifice of these great heroes of 9/11. Tomorrow the House companion legislation will be marked up in the Judiciary Committee.

Congress must do the right thing, the Senate must do our jobs, it must act on this legislation.

I urge my colleagues to join this legislation to cosponsor the bill, to support this effort, to support the effort in the House and Senate to swiftly pass this legislation to ensure these heroes receive the care they need, the care they deserve.

We didn’t know what was going to happen on September 11, but for the thousands of people involved at Ground Zero, we know what will happen if Congress fails to act, and it’s unacceptable.

That’s why I urge my colleagues to pass this important legislation, to do the right thing, to stand up for their fellow heroes who served our country so well.

Madam President, I yield the floor and I note the absence of a Quorum.

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