September 18, 2020

Schumer, Gillibrand To Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Restore 9/11 Health Care Funds To FDNY And First Responders

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter this morning to Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin regarding the Treasury Department withholding nearly $4 million in reimbursements to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) for health care provided to firefighters who are sick and injured due to the toxins they encountered at Ground Zero.

“The Trump Treasury Department siphoning congressionally appropriated funds meant to pay for 9/11 workers’ healthcare is an outrageous finger in the eye to the firefighters, cops and other first responders who risked their lives for us on 9/11. This needs to stop forthwith and payments to the workers’ health program must be made whole—and now,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

“New York’s bravest firefighters and first responders made immeasurable sacrifices while leading efforts to rebuild and recover after 9/11, and for the Treasury Department to shortchange them is an outrage,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Treasury Department must immediately cease withholding critical funding for the health care needs of these heroes.”   

Members of the entire New York congressional delegation sent a similar letter on Thursday.

Read the full text of the senators’ letter here and below:

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

We are writing to you regarding the Treasury Department's withholding of nearly $4 million in reimbursements to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) for health care provided to firefighters who are sick and injured due to the toxins they encountered at Ground Zero. 

While this problem might have started as an accounting issue, it has clearly become a conscious decision to disregard your authority to waive the automatic withdrawals from the firefighter health program.   

Representative Peter King[1] brought this issue to your attention in a letter three months ago, and in response to his inquiry, Treasury official replied that you had no discretion to stop the seizure of funds. [2]   However, the Treasury Department’s website includes a fact sheet[3]regarding the Treasury Offset Program, which states: 

“The Secretary may exempt other payments if the head of the paying agency demonstrates that offset would substantially interfere with Congress’s purpose for the payment agency’s program.”

In light of the fact that you do have discretion, we request that you exercise your authority to exempt the World Trade Center Health Program funding from being seized and allow the funding to be sent to the program without any further delay.

The Clinic is currently short on the funds that it needs to hire staff to provide the medical treatment and monitoring that our 9/11 responders need and deserve.   We look forward to hearing from you that these funds will be restored.

Sincerely,