Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand expressed deep disappointment that her bipartisan 9-11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act was omitted from the FY2023 omnibus funding package, but recommitted herself to passing the bill. The legislation would close a $3.6 billion funding gap in the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides health benefits to 9-11 first responders and survivors.
“I am deeply disappointed that my bipartisan bill to close the funding gap in the World Trade Center Health Program did not make it into this funding package,” said Gillibrand. “This program was established and reauthorized with bipartisan support—the opposition it now faces is unconscionable. Unless Congress passes this fix, funding for the WTCHP will soon run short and force health benefit cutbacks for first responders, survivors and their families. I want to thank Senator Schumer for his strong advocacy for this bill and I intend on working with him to pass this fix in the future, either as a standalone bill or as part of a larger package. We have never failed our 9-11 heroes and we don’t intend to start now.”
In August 2021, Senator Gillibrand introduced the 9-11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act. The bill would deliver approximately $3.6 billion in supplemental funding to close the impending funding gap in the World Trade Center Health Program, which stems from the formula not keeping pace with the costs of health care inflation and increased participation in the program.
In September 2021, Gillibrand, Schumer, and bipartisan members of the New York congressional delegation held a press conference in New York City calling for passage of the bill ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.
In July 2022, Gillibrand held a press conference calling on Congress to include the bill in a future spending package.
In November 2022, Gillibrand sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leadership calling on them to include the bill in the FY2023 omnibus.
About the World Trade Center Health Program: 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.
Gillibrand’s work on 9-11 health benefits: 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 and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. In October of 2018, following the announcement that the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund 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.