Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter to leadership pushing Congress to pass the 9-11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act in order to deliver $3.624 billion in supplemental funding to close the impending funding gap in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). The funding shortfall will begin affecting the program and its ability to provide services starting in FY2025. Senator Gillibrand is pushing to include the bill in any upcoming legislative vehicle, including the omnibus spending bill or any end-of-year funding package. Gillibrand was joined during her video press conference by Ben Chevat, Executive Director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, and Tom Hart, a 9-11 responder and president of IUOE Local 94. Tom also sits on the Board of Directors of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.
“In 2011, we established the World Trade Center Health Program to provide first responders, survivors and their families with health care benefits in order to treat 9-11-related health conditions,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Unfortunately, funding for the WTCHP will run short soon and force benefit cutbacks unless Congress takes action. The 9-11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act will close this $3.6 billion funding gap and ensure the program has the resources it needs now and into the future. I am going to work closely with my colleagues to get this legislation included in any end-of-year spending bill.”
“On behalf of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her continuing efforts on behalf of 9-11 responders and survivors suffering from the impact of the toxins at Ground Zero even today over 21 years later. By working to ensure that the World Trade Center Health Program has the funds it needs, before the impending shortfall. This means that we will not have to ask responders and survivors to come to Washington again and walk the halls of Congress seeking action. Thank you, Senator Gillibrand.” – Benjamin Chevat, Executive Director for Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act
“Thank you, Senator Gillibrand, for truly Never Forgetting 9-11 and for getting this done.” -Tom Hart, 9-11 responder, President of IUOE Local 94, Board of Directors of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act
After years of efforts and calls on the federal government, Congress established the WTCHP on a bipartisan basis in 2011 with a five-year authorization to provide medical treatment and monitoring for over 120,000 9-11 responders and survivors suffering from the effects of the toxins at Ground Zero. 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. Today, seven 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 all 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.
The original 9-11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act was cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Schumer (D-NY), Menendez (D-NJ), Booker (D-NJ), Murphy (D-CT), Blumenthal (D-CT), Brown (D-OH), Kaine (D-VA), Baldwin (D-WI), Casey (D-PA), Reed (D-RI), Markey (D-MA), and Sanders (I-VT). The bill is led in the House of Representatives by Representative Carolyn Maloney and has over 120 additional cosponsors.
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 WTCHP and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). In October of 2018, following the announcement that the September 11th 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 the VCF for 9-11 heroes and their families.
For Senator Gillibrand’s full letter, please click here.