De Blasio, House members call for permanent Zadroga Act
Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of New York’s congressional delegation are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to convince the Republican House majority to permanently extend the 2010 Zadroga Act, the law that provides compensation for first responders who became ill after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
De Blasio, with House members Charlie Rangel, Carolyn Maloney and Joe Crowley at his side, also announced he had sent a letter to Ryan that was signed by a bipartisan group of 24 mayors and local legislators from around the country calling for reauthorization of the Act.
The list of signers includes Mayors Eric Garcetti, Michael Nutter and Marty Walsh of Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston, along with some Republican leaders such as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Mesa, Arizona mayor John Giles.
The chair of the House judiciary committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, introduced his own reauthorization bill several weeks ago that has been roundly criticized by members of the New York delegation. Goodlatte’s bill would significantly modify the Zadroga plan — extending it by five years instead of permanently reauthorizing it, and cutting compensation payments for victims by as much as 60 percent.
Maloney accused Goodlatte on Monday of introducing that measure quietly in order to “kill the program."
“I think that this was an effort to really defeat our efforts,” she said of the bill.
Goodlatte introduced the bill without talking to either Rep. Peter King or Rep. Dan Donovan, both Republican members of the New York delegation who have been heavily involved in 9/11-related issues, Maloney said. .
Congress allowed the World Trade Center Health Program to expire in September this year, and the Victims Compensation Fund, which provides funding for 9/11 first responders and their families in the event of illness, is set to expire in 2016. Reps. Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, who were both at the press conference Monday, said they are calling for Congress to include a permanent extension of Zadroga in the omnibus House spending bill that must be passed by December 11 this year.
“This is not a red issue, not a blue issue, it’s truly a red, white and blue issue,” de Blasio said.
The press conference came several days after the death of police officer Marcy Simms, who died of lung cancer she developed after being exposed to the Ground Zero site.
Crowley said he was tired of hearing his colleagues invoke the memory of 9/11 without agreeing to fund health care for first responders.
“No colleague should use the term ‘never again’ until we meet the needs of the individuals who suffered so greatly that day and continue to suffer,” Crowley said.
Read the full text of the letter below:
November 9th, 2015
The Honorable Paul Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Speaker Ryan:
We write to urge that you make it a top priority of your new role as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to permanently reauthorize and fully fund H.R. 1786/S. 928, The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (Zadroga Act), as expeditiously as possible. This is an issue of national significance that strikes at the heart of our national psyche and has a direct and immediate impact on thousands of our residents.
There is no greater example of selfless, patriotic, and heroic actions than the response to the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Following these attacks,thousands of first responders, construction workers and volunteers who live in our cities and towns selflessly acted to comb through dust, debris and rubble to look for survivors and eventually restore normalcy. They were exposed to deadly toxins and carcinogens at Ground Zero while the Federal Government said that the air was safe. We cannot fail to support these heroes living in our cities, and who live in every state across our great nation.
The House Zadroga Act was introduced by Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King, while the Senate counterpart was introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer, Robert Menendez, Cory Booker, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, Elizabeth Warren, Jeanne Shaheen, and Jeff Merkley. To date, there is broad bipartisan support for these bills; 247 Members of the United States House of Representatives and 63 members of the United States Senate support them.
The legislation will permanently extend and fully fund two significant programs: the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The WTC Health program provides over 72,000 responders and survivors treatment or medical monitoring across the country. The VCF provides compensation for injured or ill 9/11 responders and survivors from the aftermath of the attacks, and has made over 6,285 determinations for injured and ill responders and survivors or their families.
The current WTC Health program expired on September 30th, 2015 and the VCF will expire in 2016. This has put at risk the continued treatment of current and future patients. More than 33,000 9/11 first responders and survivors have developed at least one illness, and doctors are expecting future patients whose symptoms may have not yet manifested. If the law is not renewed and fully funded, patients will be deprived of treatment, while families already awarded compensation could see their payments cut by half.
Our first responders were there for us on 9/11 – we must be there for them now. We owe it to these men and women living in all of our communities to ensure they are cared for as they face the health effects of helping this country during and after one of the worst attacks on U.S. soil. As such, we ask you to permanently reauthorize these critical health care and compensation programs.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.
Mayor Bill de Blasio – New York City (D)
Mayor Eric Garcetti – Los Angeles (D)
Mayor Michael Nutter – Philadelphia (D)
Mayor Martin Walsh – Boston (D)
Mayor Greg Stanton – Phoenix (D)
Mayor Steve Adler – Austin (D)
Mayor Betsy Hodges – Minneapolis (D)
Mayor Javier Gonzalez – Santa Fe (D)
Mayor Paul Soglin – Madison (D)
Mayor Dawn Zimmer – Hoboken (D)
Mayor Bob Buckhorn – Tampa (D)
Mayor Jorge Elorza – Providence (D)
Mayor John Giles – Mesa (R)
County Executive Rob Astorino – Westchester (R)
County Executive Edward Mangano – Nassau (R)
County Executive Ed Day – Rockland (R)
County Executive Steve Bellone – Suffolk (D)
County Executive Marcus Molinaro – Dutchess (R)
County Executive Steve Neuhaus – Orange (R)
County Executive MaryEllen Odell – Putnam (R)
Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer – Babylon (D)
Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone - Huntington (D)
Supervisor-Elect Anthony J. Santino – Hempstead (R)
Supervisor-Elect Jay Schneiderman – Southampton (I)