**WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s Remarks on the Senate Floor Here**
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today spoke on the Senate floor to honor the first responders who have lost their lives due to 9-11-related illnesses, including the 11 first responders who have died since the 14th anniversary of 9-11, just six weeks ago. Gillibrand once again urged Congress to pass a permanent extension of the programs on which thousands of 9-11 first responders, survivors and their families rely. Over 1,700 people have passed away from 9-11-related illnesses.
Last month, hundreds of first responders and advocates – including former Daily Show host Jon Stewart – lobbied Congress in support of the permanent reauthorization of the Zadroga Act. Since then, 21 Senators – 14 Democrats and seven Republicans – have cosponsored the bill: the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. A total of 58 Senators now support this legislation.
Created in 2010, the World Trade Center Health Program provides treatment and medical care to 33,000 first responders and survivors suffering from at least one 9-11-related illness or injury. More than 72,000 first responders and survivors receive medical monitoring to screen for cancers and other diseases observed in the 9-11 population. Participants in the World Trade Center Health Program live in all 50 states, and in 433 of the 435 Congressional Districts. The program expired on September 30th, putting these critical services in jeopardy.
Another program established as a part of the Zadroga Act, the Victims Compensation Fund, will expire in October 2016. The Fund provides financial aid to responders, survivors and families who have suffered economic losses as a result of 9-11-related injuries.
Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared for delivery are copied below:
“Mr. President, two days ago, another victim of the September 11th attacks died in New York. He is the 11th first responder to die since this year’s anniversary of the attacks.
“His name was Sergeant Gerard Beyrodt. He served for decades in the New York Police Department.
“His entire career was devoted to serving his community, and keeping the people around him safe.
“And when we were attacked on September 11th, 2001, Sergeant Gerard Beyrodt didn’t waver.
“He banded together with thousands of first responders from around the country from all 50 states and he rushed to Ground Zero to help.
“These heroic men and women ran into the burning towers to save anyone they could find.
“And when the Twin Towers collapsed, our first responders worked day and night to clear the pile breathing in toxic, poisonous fumes the entire time.
“These men and women were heroes. They refused to abandon their community in a time of terrifying confusion and intense grief.
“But now, because of the poisonous fumes they were exposed to at Ground Zero – the burning metal and the toxic smoke – these men and women are sick.
“Many of them have cancer. Many are dying.
“And too many have already died.
“Mr. President, more than 14 years later, the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001, are still claiming American lives.
“In the six weeks since the most recent anniversary of the attacks, we’ve lost 11 more first responders, to diseases that can be traced back to their work at Ground Zero.
“I want to take a moment to list their names now:
“John P. McKee
“The death toll is not going to stop rising. So what is Congress waiting for?
“Mr. President, the bill authorizing funding for the 9-11 Health program has already expired. But these 9-11-related illnesses do not expire. So neither should their healthcare.
“More than 33,000 first responders and survivors have an illness or injury caused by the 9-11 attacks or their aftermath.
“More than 1,700 have passed away from a 9-11-related illness.
“More police officers have died from 9-11-related illnesses, than died on 9-11 itself.
“The participants in the 9-11 Health program live in every single state.
“Every Senator in this chamber has constituents who are sick and are in the program.
“Mr. President, the first responders we’ve lost leave behind families, spouses, and children.
“And they leave behind bills, mortgages, car payments, and college tuition payments.
“These 9-11 illnesses not only rob families of their loved ones, but leave them to face expenses without, in many cases, the family’s primary breadwinner.
“If Congress doesn’t act now, how many more first responders and their families are going to suffer because we didn’t do our job and reauthorize this program?
“Mr. President, on the most recent anniversary of the attacks, many of my colleagues here released statements and made posts online, to commemorate the anniversary, and remember the victims of 9-11.
“Well if you’re a US Senator and that’s all you’re doing – if all you’re doing is talking about it – then you’re not doing your job.
“If you’re a Senator, and all you’re doing for our 9-11 first responders is Tweeting about them, then you’re not fulfilling your duty as a US Senator.
“There is a bill, right here, waiting for a vote.
“A majority of this body has already signed on as co-sponsors of this legislation.
“And nobody has come out and opposed it!
“So what are we waiting for?
“We must reauthorize and make permanent the World Trade Center Health Program and Victims Compensation Fund.
“We must finish the job.
“Mr. President, let’s truly “never forget.”
“Our 9-11 heroes deserve, and desperately need, this care.
“So let’s do our job. Let’s vote on the bill. Let’s pass it. The clock is ticking.
“I yield the floor.”