Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is introducing legislation to address the impending World Trade Center Health Program funding shortfall that will begin impacting the program and its ability to provide services starting in FY 2025. Gillibrand will push to include provisions from the bill in the upcoming reconciliation package.
After years of efforts and calls on the federal government, Congress established the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) in 2011 to provide medical treatment and monitoring for over 110,000 9-11 responders and survivors. Now, nearly six years since Congress reauthorized the program, it is estimated that the funding formula in the statute will not be able to keep pace with the anticipated costs of providing the program’s services for 9-11 heroes, who span all fifty states and 434 of the 435 congressional districts.
Soon, the WTCHP will not have the funds needed to provide care for those still suffering the physical and mental impacts of 9-11 and for those who have yet to be diagnosed with new 9-11-associated conditions caused by their toxic exposures. As the nation prepares to observe the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, Senator Gillibrand is introducing and urging support for the 9-11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act to ensure every responder and survivor has the resources they need to treat 9-11-related health conditions.
“The victims of September 11th are not just the men and women killed on that terrible day – countless American lives continue to be claimed by illnesses linked to the attacks,” said Senator Gillibrand. “In 2011, we established the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) to provide first responders, survivors and their families with the health care benefits needed to treat 9-11-related health conditions. Today, we must uphold that promise and ensure that the program will have the funds it needs now and into the future. I’m urging my colleagues to prioritize and pass the 9-11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act, and to remember that “we will never forget 9-11” is not just a slogan, but a reality we must uphold.”
“Our country made a promise after 9-11 to always be there for the firefighters, the police, the EMTs, the workers clearing the pile, and survivors, residents, area workers, and students who got sick or injured from the toxins at ground zero,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “A promise we kept when we made the 9-11 health program essentially permanent. The funding provided in the 9-11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act will ensure that everyone impacted by this tragic event gets the care they rightfully need and deserve.”
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) originally passed in 2011 with bipartisan support with a five-year authorization, and was created to provide medical treatment and monitoring for the thousands of 9-11 responders and survivors suffering from the effects of the toxins at Ground Zero as a result of the terrorist attacks of 9-11. The program covers the lifespans of all exposed, including responders and survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Shanksville crash site, children who were in schools in downtown Manhattan on 9-11 and during clean-up, and those who have since experienced, or are expected to experience, adverse health effects that are linked to the attacks in the coming years. The program was reauthorized in 2015 and extended through 2090 with bipartisan support.
Senator Gillibrand has been a forefront advocate for 9-11 first responders and led the effort to pass the bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act in 2019, which fully funded and extended the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. In 2010 she authored and passed the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Act that both created the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). In October of 2018, following the announcement that the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was set to run out of funding before its expiration date in 2020, Senator Gillibrand, joined by Senators Gardner and Schumer and Representatives Maloney, Nadler, and King introduced a bipartisan bill to permanently reauthorize and fund VCF for 9-11heroes and their families.
This bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Schumer (D-NY), Menendez (D-NJ), Booker (D-NJ), Murphy (D-CT), and Blumenthal (D-CT). The bill is cosponsored in the House of Representatives by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Chris Jacobs (R-NY), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), David McKinley (R-WV), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), Jim Himes (D-CT), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Don Bacon (R-NE), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), John Katko (R-NY), Joe Morelle (D-NY), David Joyce (R-OH), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), and Tom Reed (R-NY).