Video From Media Availability *HERE*
Washington, D.C. – Senators and representatives added their names to the bill to permanently extend the 9-11 health and compensation programs as more than 100 first responders and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart spent the day lobbying members of Congress in Washington. Six Senators and 11 Representatives signed on as co-sponsors of the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, bringing the total number of supporters to 43 in the Senate and 162 in the House.
The authorization for the World Trade Center Health Program – created in 2010 by the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Act – is set to expire at the end of the month. Lead Senate sponsors Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and lead House sponsors Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) with Senator Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Booker (D-NJ), Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Daniel Donovan (R-NY) joined the first responders in the Capitol to continue to push for a full and permanent extension of the health program and the Victim Compensation fund, also established by the Zadroga Act.
Jon Stewart, first responders and survivors – many sick from the toxic exposure on September 11th and its aftermath – met with members of the U.S. Senate and House to implore Congress to reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Program and Victim Compensation Fund established by the Zadroga Act. Senators Gillibrand, Schumer and Kirk are the lead sponsors of the permanent reauthorization in the Senate that has the support of 43 total senators, including six Republicans and the addition of six sponsors Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Warner (D-VA) who signed on today. Representatives Maloney, Nadler and King are the lead cosponsors in the House and have secured 162 total sponsors, including 35 Republicans.
“The illnesses our first responders and survivors have won’t expire, neither should their health care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Congress only acts when real people come and demand it – but our heroes shouldn’t have to keep coming down to Washington to lobby for the care they need. It’s time to permanently reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Program and Victims Compensation Fund. If we fail to extend these programs, then we will have fallen short of our nation’s promise to never forget 9-11.”
“Our 9-11 heroes did not flinch when they put themselves in danger in the days and months after the attack, and now far too many suffer from serious illnesses as a result of that work,” said Senator Schumer. “These heroes deserve a fully-funded and permanent health monitoring and compensation program and I will be working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to promptly renew this vital program because our heroes deserve no less.”
“The volunteers who went to the attack sites after 9-11 to help their fellow Americans are the best of the best, and we cannot turn our backs on our heroes,” said Senator Kirk. “170 Illinoisans risked their lives to help our nation rebuild, and supporting our heroes is a bipartisan cause we can all support. I thank my colleagues and Jon Stewart for helping to champion this effort.”
“Jon Stewart was one of the driving forces behind getting the Zadroga Act passed in the first place, and his support is crucial to making the law permanent,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY). “The heroes of 9-11 who fought the flames and inhaled the dust are being forced to wage a battle on two fronts: a fight to survive the illnesses related to their service at Ground Zero, and a fight on Capitol Hill to ensure the health and compensation they rely on do not disappear. They’ve endured chemotherapy, daily asthma attacks, permanent disabilities, post-traumatic stress, and other terrible illnesses. They live the consequences of 9-11 daily. It’s not enough to praise their heroism. Jon is helping to send the message: it’s time for politicians in Washington to permanently extend the Zadroga Act.”
“Five years ago, John Stewart played a key role in our fight to get health coverage for 9-11 heroes, and we are proud to stand with him again to keep this fight going until the Zadroga Act is reauthorized,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). “It shouldn’t take dozens of sick responders and survivors walking the halls of Congress, demanding action on the reauthorization of the Zadroga Act. We pledged never to forget, and we must not cut off health care and support for tens of thousands of survivors and responders because Congress failed to act.”
“Nationwide, 9-11 responders and survivors are suffering from health conditions caused by their exposure to toxins at Ground Zero,” said Congressman Peter King (R-NY). “It’s time to stop the rhetoric and the B.S. and just pass this critical legislation.”
“Jon Stewart is a true hero of 9-11 heroes. We thank Jon and all the 9-11 responders and survivors who reminded Congress today to ‘remember 9-11’ not just with words, but with help for those who are suffering because of the attacks. Our effort to renew the Zadroga Act is gaining traction as Members of Congress learn the scope of the health crisis facing 33,000 of their constituents, who live in every state and nearly every Congressional district,” said Richard Alles, FDNY Deputy Chief and Board Member of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.
“Anything short of permanently extending this life saving piece of legislation for 70,000 plus American’s is a failure on every level and a reflection on poor leadership in DC,” said John Feal, Founder of the FealGood Foundation. “We are confident that our Senator and our friend Kirsten Gillibrand will continue to lead the charge to ensure the fragile fraternity of those effected by 9-11 and its aftermath see our Bill, the James Zadroga Health & Compensation Act permanently extended.”
“We can’t just honor the heroes of 9-11 with words, our nation has an enduring obligation to make sure they have the care they need,” said Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). “Over 1,000 Pennsylvanians are receiving vital medical care through the Zadrgoa programs. We can’t let these men and women down. It’s time to pass a permanent extension of the 9-11 health programs to give these brave Americans the peace of mind in knowing that they will be cared for.”
“In the minutes, hours, days and years following the attacks, Americans showed their amazing propensity for compassion, sacrifice and selflessness in an incredible variety of ways,” said Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). “Much of that sacrifice came from the first responders who rushed in as others rushed out. We vow to never forget 9-11 and we must never forget the sacrifices of those for those still living with the emotional and medical burdens of the attacks. To fail to provide for the 9-11 first responders and survivors would be worse than forgetting, it would be ignoring their immeasurable sacrifices that helped this this nation back on its feet after that dark day.”
“Let’s send a clear message to our first responders in the name of New Jersey’s Detective James Zadroga: We will never forget what you did for your fellow citizens and for this nation on that day that changed the world,” said Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who wrote the original Zadroga health bill to extend the Victim’s Compensation Fund. “We have a moral obligation to those individuals who sacrificed their own health and well-being to help others. This is an obligation to those who risked their lives on that fateful day. Fourteen years later, the need is still there and the moral responsibility continues.”
“The thousands that continue to suffer from long-term health effects of 9-11 represent one of the lingering tragedies of that day,” said Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). “I’m proud to co-sponsor the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act because it represents our continued commitment to honor the first responders and care for the survivors of that terrible day.”
“Sadly, 14 years after 9-11, first responders and survivors are still battling serious health problems resulting from exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero,” said Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). “They are suffering from a host of chronic diseases: asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease, and many more health challenges. This bill honors the memory and sacrifices made that day by preserving the health and well-being of the men and women who are still recovering. Renewing it is the right thing to do.”
“Americans from all walks of life assisted New York City after the tragic events of 9-11 to search for remains, stabilize the World Trade Center site, and help the city recover,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). “They responded without regard for their own health and safety in the face of a national tragedy. Today 30 Alaskans are being monitored for adverse health conditions related to their presence at the World Trade Center site. Maintaining our nation’s promise to those who selflessly placed themselves in front of danger is the right thing to do. Congress must reauthorize the Zadroga Act without delay.”
“Our nation’s heroic first responders did their duty by running toward danger on 9-11, rather than away, and we must continue to uphold our commitment to providing them with the ongoing medical treatment that they need,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “We can never fully repay our first responders for their bravery, but by reauthorizing the crucial funds to address the severe health consequences, including chronic diseases and respiratory disorders, that many of them face, we can do our part to provide them with the support they deserve.”
“Our 9-11 first responders are heroes, but even heroes need help,” said Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA). “As the expiration of the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Act approaches, Congress must do everything it can to renew and make permanent these programs that ensure the survivors and first responders of 9-11 get the care and compensation they need and deserve.”
“On September 11, 2001, amid the terror and senseless violence, we saw extraordinary acts of heroism and sacrifice,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “The first responders who rushed toward danger on that day to save others, knowing full well the risks, exemplify the best of our nation. We will never forget the incredible bravery and selflessness of those men and women, and we must ensure that they receive the care they need and deserve. That’s why it is so important that we permanently extend the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Act to honor their incredible service.”
“The attacks on September 11, 2001 forever changed our country. And for many of the brave first responders at Ground Zero, it forever changed their health and ability to work,” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “These men and women and their families deserve permanent access to health care to treat their injuries and illnesses, and other forms of compensation. We must honor their contribution to our nation, and this is one small way to show them our gratitude.”
“America will never forget the victims who lost their lives on 9-11, but we must also remember the survivors and first responders who continue to experience serious health issues that can be traced back to that day. September 11th was a national tragedy, and the federal government has a solemn responsibility to ensure those who lived through hell have the care and support they need,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).
“We owe to those who served and sacrificed for us on September 11th that they receive the care they need,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “The Zadroga Act’s health and compensation programs help ease the burden of illnesses and injuries suffered that day by first responders. Extending that support is something we should all agree on.”
“Fourteen years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, our first responders who heroically risked their lives to save others still bear the permanent burden of that tragic day,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). “We must stand by those who continue to suffer as a result of that unthinkable attack, and stand up to ensure they get the health care and compensation they deserve. I will continue to fight so that they have a government on their side when they need it most.”
“We must continue the work we started years ago standing up for 9-11 first responders and survivors,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). “It is vitally important that Congress takes action to permanently extend these programs so our 9-11 first responders and their families continue receiving the care they deserve.”
“In the wake of the terrible tragedy that affected every corner in every community of this nation on September 11th, 2001, first responders from every state ran toward collapsing towers to save their fellow Americans,” said Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY). “We can never repay the debt owed to these heroes and their loved ones, but we must do all we can to ensure they have access to proper health care and medical monitoring. I thank Senators Gillibrand and Schumer as well as a bipartisan delegation from New York led by Representatives Maloney, Nadler and King for working together to fight for those who fought for us.”
“Unless Congress takes action, the 275 first responders and survivors I represent will be without the medical monitoring and health care they need,” said Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ). “We cannot abandon these individuals by allowing the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund to expire. They have endured numerous life-threatening ailments, and we have an obligation to honor their sacrifices by permanently extending the Zadroga Act.”
“This seems straightforward: 14 years ago, true heroes risked their lives to pick up the pieces in lower Manhattan,” said Congressman Daniel Donovan, Jr. (R-NY). “Today, they still suffer the physical consequences of their selflessness. Time doesn’t erase our moral imperative to cover their medical expenses – it is an extension of the costs of the attack. That’s why I cosponsored the Zadroga Act within minutes of taking office in May, and why I’ll stand side-by-side with Democrats and Republicans in fighting for a permanent extension.”
“The heroes of 9-11 deserve much more than lip service,” said Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY). “They deserve action. They deserve members of Congress from both parties and from all across the country coming together to reauthorize these critical programs. Our first responders stepped up when we needed them. Now, they need us – thousands are suffering from severe 9-11-related illnesses, and thousands more need regular monitoring to ensure these conditions are detected and treated as quickly as possible. They’re counting on us to step up and get the job done, and God help us if we let them down.”
“In the midst of chaos, in our hour of need, brave first responders saw the horrors of the September 11th terrorist attacks unfold before them, and they ran toward the danger to help their fellow man and woman,” said Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ). “Today, they need us, and I’m proud to once again extend our gratitude to these heroes by urging my colleagues to support this important legislation.”
“As a nation, we have a duty to care for the heroes of 9-11, including the many Western New Yorkers who answered the call to serve on that day and in the weeks that followed,” said Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY). “These brave men and women risked everything to help the victims at Ground Zero and it’s time for Congress to honor their sacrifice by ensuring they continue to get the medical care they need.”
“Many of the 9-11 heroes and survivors still suffer the effects of the airborne toxins at Ground Zero, and under no circumstance should they be left holding the bag for their medical costs,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), who represents James Zadroga’s hometown of North Arlington, NJ in Congress. “It’s our obligation to care for the heroes who worked on our nation’s behalf for the days, weeks and months after we were attacked, which is why we must pass a full and permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Act.”
“As the world remembers the day forever etched in the hearts and minds of Americans, the best way to honor those lost is to look out for their families and the thousands who were present at the time of the attacks and in the days that followed,” said Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY).
“Congress has a moral obligation to do everything possible to help the first-responders and volunteers still struggling with the health effects of 9-11,” said Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. “Reauthorization of the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act must be made an immediate priority by both House and Senate leadership. These heroic men and women cannot be left twisting in the wind. As a cosponsor of the original law and the reauthorization bill in the House, I stand today with my colleagues, the first-responders, and Jon Stewart, who has so graciously lent his support to this vital cause, to say the Zadroga Act must be extended and finally made permanent.”
“Sadly, for many first responders, area residents, and the thousands of volunteers who helped clean up Ground Zero, the battle continues for the health care they deserve,” said Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY). “These brave men and women were there for our country in our darkest hour and we have an obligation to be there for them now. That’s why we must pass the full and permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9-11 Health & Compensation Act. Our heroes’ lives are at stake, and we owe it to them to ensure they receive the care and monitoring they need. The pain of that day may live in our hearts, but the memory of that day must also live on in our actions.”
“First responders to the 9-11 attacks came from every state and every corner of America. We must see these programs continue to ensure that those who bravely stepped forward in service to the Nation have the medical monitoring, treatment and long-term care needed. I was pleased to meet some of those heroes today and I hope their stories of courage will inspire action on this measure,” said Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ), who helped steer the issue through the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“On September 11th, our brave first responders answered the call, and now, 14 years after that horrible day, we must not turn our backs on the tireless heroes who were sickened or injured while working at Ground Zero,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY). “Continuing to provide the help they need is the right and decent thing, and it’s what we must do for all the sacrifices that they’ve made. We must never, ever abandon them. These programs must not be allowed to expire.”
“Just last week, we marked the 14th anniversary of the most devastating terrorist attack in our nation’s history,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ). “On September 11, 2001, even in the midst of overwhelming tragedy, we came together as a nation– and that’s exactly what we must do today for thousands of first responders and survivors of that tragedy. Extending the Zadroga Act will ensure that we continue to support these Americans, and making it permanent means that these families never have to wonder how they will receive care for the various chronic conditions experienced by those harmed that day.”
“On 9-11, first responders answered our call for help when we needed them most. Many are still forced to deal with the enduring after-effects of their service at Ground Zero and we owe it to them to reauthorize the Zadroga Act so they can continue to receive the care they rely on,” said Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ). “I am glad we were able to secure a hearing in my Committee, which was a critical first step toward passage. But as expiration of the program draws closer every day, we must amplify the call for reauthorization. Jon Stewart has been an important part of our efforts and advocate for this program over the years.”
“We owe it to the first responders, volunteers, and survivors of 9-11 to ensure they have access to the medical care and economic support they need to lead healthy and productive lives. These people live all over the United States, which makes this not only a New York City issue, but a national issue. The Zadroga Act remains as timely now as it did in the days after 9-11, and Congress needs to come together to support it once again,” said Congressman José Serrano (D-NY).
“Our first responders were there for us. We have a moral obligation to be there for them,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’ll continue to fight to ensure our police officers, firefighters, medical professionals, and all of our first responders receive the health care and support they need and deserve. I urge Congress to quickly pass this vital extension.”
“When we say ‘Never Forget’ it’s not just a slogan, it’s a promise. It’s long past time for Members of Congress to make good on that promise and stop dragging their feet on indefinitely extending the Zadroga Act to make sure our 9-11 first responders get the lifetime of help with healthcare costs they deserve,” said Howard Dean, former DNC Chair and founder of Democracy for America, one of the national organizations encouraging millions to call their member of Congress to sign on to the legislation.
“In less than a week, more than 100,000 people have signed on to John Feal’s petition calling for permanent health care for 9-11 first responders and survivors,” said Noland Chambliss, Change.org‘s Director of External Affairs. “14 years later, it’s clear that Americans have not forgotten the sacrifices made by 9-11 first responders and are taking action on the site to ensure that 9-11 survivors are being taken care of.”
Facts on the WTC Health Program and September 11th Victims Compensation Fund
This is a national program. Participants in the WTC Health Program include first responders and survivors – area residents, workers and children – harmed by the disaster. Enrollees reside in all 50 states, in 429 of the 435 Congressional Districts.
More than 33,000 responders and survivors have at least one illness or injury. These participants receive treatment and medical care through the WTC Health Program for many chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses, including asthma, sinusitis, obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. As a result of these chronic illnesses, many first responders are disabled and can no longer work.
More than 72,000 responders and survivors receive medical monitoring. Incidence of illness and 9-11-related cancer has grown since 9-11. Since 2012, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has added several types of cancers to the list of 9-11-related illnesses covered by the WTC Health Program. Studies show that 9-11 workers have gotten certain cancers – including prostate, thyroid, and multiple myeloma – at significantly higher rates than the general population.
According to the Centers for Disease Control 4,166 first responders have a 9-11-related cancer.
Over 85 NYPD and over 131 FDNY personnel have reportedly died from their 9-11 illnesses since 9-11.
More police officers have died from 9-11 related illnesses than perished on 9-11.
The Victims Compensation Fund has provided compensation to 6,285 injured 9-11 individuals eligible for compensation. This economic aid is essential to responders, survivors and their families, who suffered economic loss because of physical injuries as a result of involvement in Ground Zero, including breathing in toxins. Many studies have documented the health effects of the WTC attacks, which include lower and upper respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal conditions, and certain cancers. These illnesses have caused major financial strains on many of those exposed who are subsequently no longer able to work.
Similar federal programs are permanent. Lawmakers are pushing to make the two Zadroga programs, the WTC Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, permanent similar to other programs Congress has created. Both the Federal Black Lung Program for coal miners and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA),which assists nuclear workers who built atomic weapons in the 50’s and 60’s or now work in our nuclear industry are permanent and fully funded.