Pols push for permanent extension of 9/11 health care bill

October 30, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney says the Zadroga Act should be permanent. Photo courtesy of Maloney’s office
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A move by Republicans in the House of Representatives to re-authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five years was heavily criticized by two Congress members representing parts of Brooklyn, who called instead for the fund to be made permanent.

Democrats Carolyn Maloney, whose district includes Greenpoint, and Jerrold Nadler, who represents parts of Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, slammed a proposal made by the House Judiciary Committee to reauthorize the fund for a period of five years.

The two lawmakers issued a joint statement on Oct. 29.

“The proposal attempting to extend the Victim Compensation Fund for only five years is deeply flawed, and could result in current claimants seeing their awards cut by as much as 60 percent. We cannot tell those who have been out of work for years because of their injuries, or the widows and children of those who have died, that the money they were promised could be cut by more than half. That is not how Congress should treat American heroes,” the statement read.

Maloney and Nadler pointed out that another bill, one that would permanently extend compensation programs, has 237 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 61 cosponsors in the Senate.

“Instead of taking up this bipartisan legislation, which would clearly pass the House, this bill was drafted and introduced with no bipartisan support or input from advocacy organizations — including the firefighters, police, and survivors the bill is intended to help — experts in the area, or even the members of Congress who have been fighting for this legislation for the past 14 years. While we welcome the interest of the committee majority, this bill falls far short of our commitment to 9/11 first responders and survivors. We must permanently and properly reauthorize these programs to ensure we live up to our promise to never forget,” the statement read.

The two lawmakers charged that the GOP legislation would slash current compensation awards by 60 percent because the bill fails to address a severe underfunding of the current program.

Maloney (Manhattan-Brooklyn-Queens), Nadler (D-West Side-Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst) NY) and U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) authored the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, which would have permanently extended the World Trade Center Health Program and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

The programs were created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which passed in December 2010, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama in January of 2011.

The law was named in memory of Det. James Zadroga of the NYPD who worked on the recovery effort at Ground Zero in the months following the Sept. 11 attacks. Zadroga died of respiratory disease in 2006.


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