Donovan: Zadroga Act extension a done deal
U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan announced Tuesday that just as he had predicted, the House leadership has included a permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in a year-end omnibus spending bill expected to come up for a vote on Dec. 17.
The legislation provides $3.5 billion for the World Trade Center Health Program and $4.6 billion for the Victims Compensation Fund, according to Donovan (R-C-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island), who said he worked across the aisle with colleagues from the New York delegation to get the Zadroga Act into the spending bill.
U.S. Reps. Peter King (R-C-Long Island), Jerrold Nadler (D-West Side-Bay Ridge-Bensonhurst) and Carolyn Maloney (D-East Side-North Brooklyn), along with Donovan and U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, made the case for the Zadroga Act.
“This victory is about the heroes who sacrificed their health and their lives in one of our country’s darkest hours. This is right, this is good, and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of it,” Donovan said.
To drive home their point, Donovan and King held a press conference in Bay Ridge last month in which ailing first responders and families of deceased first responders issued emotional pleas for the Zadroga Act to be saved.
With agreement on the omnibus bill from Republican and Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate, and the potential for a government shutdown if nothing passes, the bill’s prospects for success are extremely high, Donovan said.
If the House and Senate pass the measure, it will go to the president’s desk for his signature.
Named for NYPD Detective James Zadroga, who died of a respiratory illness in 2006, the law was originally passed in 2010. At the time, the Zadroga Act allocated $4.2 billion to create the World Trade Center Health Program to provide testing and treatment for people who worked in response and recovery operations as well as for other survivors. But the law was set to expire in five years.
The law expired on Oct. 1, 2015 and its expiration potentially left thousands of first responders who worked on the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero in the weeks and months after Sept. 11, 2001, and who years later were diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, without proper health care coverage.
The illnesses could be traced back to the toxic air the first responders were breathing in as they stood on the pile of rubble at the World Trade Center site recovering the remains of the dead, advocates of the Zadroga Act said.
“As a service provider for the 9/11 community for more than 14 years, we can attest, firsthand, that many first responders are only now feeling the full impact of medical and emotional issues related to working at the World Trade Center site, and the needs of these heroes go far beyond medical support,” said Terry Sears, executive director of Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit organization that assists first responders.
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