Will Congress Renew Zadroga Benefits?
The House and Senate are expected to vote on legislation that will affect thousands of 9/11 responders later this week. According to WABC, Congress will consider a year-end tax and spending bill that includes reauthorization of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides benefits to sick responders. The Zadroga Act reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and established the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, which provides medical treatment to over 33,000 responders and monitors 70,000.
Responders, 9/11 advocates and lawmakers have been calling for permanent reauthorization. The $1.1 trillion year-end tax and spending bill has an $8.1 billion measure that would fully fund the VCF through 2021. The WTC Health Program would be renewed until 2090. The WTC is currently expired, and using cash reserves before the program ends altogether. The VCF will expire in October if Congress does not act.
The possible renewal received optimistic feedback from supporting lawmakers. "We will never fully repay the sacrifices our first responders made following September 11th. All they ask of us is that we never forget - and Congress is now sending a clear message back: we haven't." said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney.
"Passing the Zadroga bill was a long hard fight for the brave cops, firefighters and construction workers who put their lives and health on the line at Ground Zero. They deserve the very best medical care and treatment." said Rep. Pete King. Exposure to the toxic dust during 9/11 is associated with many health conditions, including respiratory disorders and dozens of different cancers. Sick responders live in every state and in 433 out of 435 Congressional districts.
"We could not have reached this day without all your incredible hard work and tireless advocacy on behalf of our 9/11 heroes and survivors, and I am proud to stand with you today as my colleagues." said Rep. Jerrold Nadler.