For 15 years, 9/11 first responders traveled the I-95 corridor to lobby in Washington, D.C., for the permanent funding of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
On July 23, they gathered with New York City’s Congressional delegation, other 9/11 survivors and comedian Jon Stewart, one of their staunchest advocates, to celebrate their mission accomplished following the Senate’s passing of the bipartisan legislation 97-2.
“This bill sends a powerful signal from our nation, from Congress, and from all the people we represent in all 50 states that we will never forget what our 9/11 heroes did for us,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “This bill is for every single person who decided in that terrible moment — when we were attacked, when we were vulnerable and we were scared — to do the unthinkable: to risk their lives for total strangers and sacrifice their bodies for our country. It is for every person who spent days, weeks and months on the pile, and has had to suffer physical and mental scars for years because of that heroic work. It is for every survivor who lived in a home or went to school downtown when the government told them the air was safe to breathe. The Senate promised that we would ‘never forget,’ and today we finally lived up to that promise.”
In 2010, and again in 2015, legislation was passed to provide medical monitoring and treatment for the thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors who have become ill, many terminally, from exposure to the toxic air at Ground Zero filled with burning chemicals, pulverized drywall, concrete and glass. However, the September 11th Victim Compensation Act was due to expire next year just as thousands more 9/11 responders and survivors are expected to be diagnosed with 9/11-related cancers.
“Today, the Senate joined with 402 Members of the House in telling the 9/11 community that we meant it when we vowed to ‘never forget,’” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “The true Twin Towers of New York are the FDNY and the NYPD, and fully funding and permanently authorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is the least we can do to honor their sacrifices.”
Maloney was close to NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez, who was raised and laid to rest in Astoria, after he died of colorectal cancer days after testifying to Congress. On Saturday, July 20, NYPD Detective Christopher Cranston, who rushed to Ground Zero from his Breezy Point home and worked on the pile for three months, died of 9/11-related cancer.
During the same week, Kevin Nolan and Richard Driscoll became the 199th and 200th members of the FDNY to die from 9/11-related illnesses.
“In New York and across the nation we will never forget the pain and suffering caused by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Our duty is to support the heroes who ran toward danger that day and the weeks that followed who are still suffering from the negative health effects of those horrific events,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “I applaud the Senate for passing this bill, and call on President Trump to sign it into law immediately. The health and safety of these brave men and women has been hanging in the balance for far too long, and it’s time they are finally given the peace of mind we owe them.”