October 02, 2018

With 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Set To Expire In 2020, Senators Schumer, Gillibrand & U.S. Reps Maloney, Nadler, & King Urge Congress To Stand Up For 9/11 Heroes; Cosponsor Upcoming Legislation To Permanently Reauthorize And Fund VCF

Our 9/11 Heroes Answered The Call When We Were Attacked, & Now Congress Needs To Extend The Program To Support Them & Their Families, Permanently

Washington, DC – On the heels of today’s announcement that the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) could run out of funding before its expiration date in 2020 and with cancer rates among 9/11 first responders continuing to rise, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and U.S. Representative Peter T. King (NY-2) released the following joint statement urging their colleagues to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the VCF.

A copy of a “Dear Colleague” letter being sent by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representatives Maloney, Nadler and King asking their colleagues to co-sponsor legislation to permanently reauthorize and fund the VCF is also available below:

“When we were attacked on 9/11, thousands of firefighters, police officers, federal and local law enforcement officers, medical workers, construction workers, and other heroes selflessly rushed to Ground Zero to help. They spent months digging through the pile, bravely searching for remains, and inhaling dangerous, toxic air the entire time they were there. Now, right when scientists predicted it would happen, cancer rates in the 9/11 first responder community are rising to new heights and the scourge of cancer continues to ruin the lives of  first responders and survivors, some of whom have been fighting these diseases for years, and others who are newly diagnosed every year.

“Twice, Congress has come together to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, most recently in 2015 to make the healthcare program for 9/11 first responders permanent. As we near the expiration of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund in 2020, our job is not done. As today's notice shows, allowing this program to expire and not fully funding the VCF would be devastating for those with new claims and the undoubtedly high number of 9/11 first responders and survivors who have yet to be diagnosed with a Ground Zero-related illness. It would send a cruel message that Congress is indifferent to our heroes’ suffering. Congress needs to fix this now before waiting until the last minute and putting our heroes through more suffering and anxiety over whether their federal government will stand with them in their time of need.

“We urge all of our colleagues to support our legislation to permanently authorize and fund the VCF. This well-managed program works, thousands of first responders and survivors need it, and we should permanently fund it now. Our 9/11 heroes answered the call when we were attacked, and now Congress needs to answer the call and stand up for them.”

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The full text of the “Dear Colleague” letter is available below: 

Dear Colleagues,

The terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 killed 2,997 and injured thousands in New York City, Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon. In the years since, tens of thousands more men and women, including first responders, relief workers, and local residents, have lost their lives or gotten sick  after they were exposed to a toxic cocktail of burning chemicals, pulverized drywall and powdered cement.

After the attack, thousands of first responders rushed to the scenes and spent months combing through the wreckage looking for remains. In New York, the residents and workers were urged by the government to return to their homes and business, and to reopen the Financial District. The federal government assured them all that the air they were all breathing was safe, when in fact it was filled with toxic pollutants that continue kill and disable 9/11 responders and survivors to this day.

Congress has already provided a permanent healthcare program for these responders and survivors, but the program to provide compensation for their families and their suffering will expire in 2020.   Therefore, we are asking you to consider joining us in introducing legislation to permanently fund the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).

From Texas[1] to North Carolina[2], responders to 9/11 at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Shanksville crash site are all facing the continued health impact of that day and its aftermath as are their families.

The death toll from 9/11 continues to grow as responders and survivors die in in increasing numbers from 9/11 conditions.  Soon the deaths of responders and survivors caused by the toxins at Ground Zero will exceed those killed on that day.  Deaths from 9/11 diseases will soon outnumber those lost on that fateful day [3]

The Special Master of the VCF, Rupa Bhattacharyya, a career Justice Department Attorney with over 20 years of service, has just announced that because of increases in claims, including many cancer cases, the VCF will not have enough funds to cover claims during the current authorization and she will have to consider reducing awards. This cannot be allowed to happen.

Brave men and women across our country answered the call to assist our country in a time of vulnerability, and we need to ensure that they receive not only the medical care that they desperately need and deserve, but the financial help they and their families need.  They came from all corners of the country bearing various racial, religious, and political stripes; united for a common cause to serve their country. These men and women deserve the support of every one of us honored to represent them.  

Sincerely,

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator Charles E. Schumer

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney

Congressman Jerrold Nadler

Congressman Peter King

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