Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Peter King (R-NY-2) today announced that their bipartisan legislation to make the 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund permanent will be re-named to add 9-11 first responders Luis Alvarez and Ray Pfeifer, who will now join NYPD detective James Zadroga, as honorees of the bill. This legislation will now be named the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.”
The original 9-11 Health and Compensation Act and its reauthorization were named after James Zadroga, a NYPD detective and hero who passed away from cancer and other health problems linked to his time at Ground Zero. This legislation would now also honor NYPD detective Alvarez and FDNY firefighter Pfeifer, 9-11 heroes who selflessly fought for the 9-11 bill for years and spent the last months of their lives coming to Washington to urge Members of Congress to make the 9-11 bill permanent.
“Luis Alvarez, Ray Pfeifer, and James Zadroga were 9-11 heroes who devoted their lives to helping others, and it is only fitting that this legislation be named in their honor,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Our 9-11 first responders are sick and dying, and too many of them have spent too much of their precious time left fighting to convince Congress to pass the 9-11 VCF bill. This legislation has strong bipartisan support and the votes in the Senate and the House to pass this bill as soon as it comes to the floor. This all comes down to political will and whether Congress is truly willing to ‘never forget’ the heroes of 9-11.”
“Luis Alvarez, James Zadroga, and Ray Pfeifer gave everything for this country by responding to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and it is unacceptable for this Congress to fail these heroes and their families,” said Senator Gardner. “After all they have done for us, our nation cannot and will not turn its back on them. It’s time for Congress to do its job and fully fund the 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund.”
“Brave warriors like Luis Alvarez, Ray Pfeifer, and James Zadroga not only rushed to the towers on and after 9-11, but they also continued to fight for the 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund to provide justice and peace of mind for those sickened after the horrific attack,” said Senator Schumer. “Renaming the legislation in honor of these three selfless people, who made the ultimate sacrifice, is entirely appropriate. But the only real way to honor their sacrifice is to pass the House bill in the Senate to avoid any more delay in providing urgent funds and relief to our nation’s heroes and their families.”
“Heroes like James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez exemplify the best of us. Naming this bill after them is just a small way to honor their service and that of the whole 9-11 community, knowing they all deserve so much more,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “They deserve to know that their healthcare and compensation will always be there when they need it and that our country stands behind them always. We will not rest until we make this bill law. It is the least we can do as a grateful nation.”
“Luis Alvarez, Ray Pfeifer, and James Zadroga dedicated their lives to protecting others and advocating on behalf of those ailing after the 9-11 attacks,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “It is a fitting tribute to rename this legislation after these heroes who epitomized bravery and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
“Lou Alvarez, Ray Pfeifer and James Zadroga personified America’s spirit and courage in responding to the evil of 9-11,” said Congressman King. “It is appropriate that the Victims Compensation Fund be named in their honor.”
“For 15 years the FealGood Foundation has walked the shallow halls of Congress to help pass the James Zadroga Health & Compensation Act not once, not twice, but three times. We are thankful for all those effected by 9-11 and its aftermath who joined us in over 275 trips & 1700 plus meetings. Your commitment and loyalty in advocating for tens of thousands should be embraced & emulated by all,” said John Feal, 9-11 Responder and Advocate. “However, along the way there are the few that standout. People like Firefighter Ray Pfeifer FDNY & Detective Luis Alvarez NYPD, who not only gave of themselves on 9-11 and the days and weeks that followed, but even more so in their final months, days and even hours of life. They are the embodiment of those that put others before themselves. That is why the name “Pfeifer” and the name “Alvarez” should have the distinct honor of joining the name “Zadroga” on this life saving piece legislation. Ray and Lou will join Jimmy on the Mount Rushmore of those who were instrumental in ensuring we passed legislation for the tens of thousands who suffer everyday from that horrific Tuesday morning. These gentlemen stand in the shoes of all of those that have passed as a result of 9-11 illnesses as well as those that will unfortunately join them in the future. They were selfless, humble and gentlemen to the end and they continue to stand guard for us all as part of God’s Army of Angels fighting the 9-11 illnesses. Their names and legacies will live in perpetuity as the very foundation of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.”
“Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act thanks the bipartisan group of sponsors, Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Gardner and Charles Schumer for taking this step to honor Ray Pfiefer and Luis Alvarez,” said Benjamin Chevat, Executive Director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act Inc. “FDNY Firefighter Pfeiffer’s and NYPD Detective Alvarez’s work to help injured and ill 9-11 responders, survivors and their families in the face of their own health crises has inspired so many across our country. It is a fitting honor to include their names along with James Zadroga in the title of the bill in light of their courage and selflessness both as responders and as advocates in the years that followed.”
On February 15, 2019, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund announced that due to a funding shortfall, injured and ill 9-11 responders and survivors will receive cuts to the awards that they were expecting of 50% for pending claims and 70% for future claims.
In the years since 9-11/2001, thousands of 9-11 responders and survivors have become ill and many have lost their lives from exposure to a toxic cocktail of burning chemicals, pulverized drywall and powdered cement that was present at Ground Zero. After years of urging Congress to act, in 2010 and again in 2015, legislation was passed to provide medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program until 2090. However, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was only extended until 2020 and the money is already running out. Now, thousands are facing dramatically reduced awards and unless Congress acts, the VCF will actually be closing next year just as thousands more 9-11 responders and survivors are expected to be diagnosed with 9-11 cancers.
This legislation is designed to ensure that the VCF is fully funded and will remain open for those that will become ill in the future. A filibuster-proof bipartisan majority of the United States Senate has cosponsored this legislation. This legislation has 332 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and passed out of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously last month.