OUR OPINION Zadroga Act renewal appropriate move
The first responders and survivors of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, share a common bond.
They both endured the most tragic attack on United States soil in our history. Although many of the first responders and survivors never met one another during that day, many have since become close friends, as evidenced by speeches and appearances made at the 9/11 memorial every year.
The U.S. should always do whatever it can to provide for those who were – and continue to be – affected by what happened that day. One of the areas in which the federal government has helped is providing funding to those first responders and survivors who have injuries and illnesses resulting from the attacks.
Since 9/11, we know that at least 33,000 first responders and survivors across the country suffer from at least one 9/11-related illness or injury. Many have multiple, severe illnesses that affect their lives every day, including 4,000 responders and survivors with cancer.
In the final hours of 2010, more than nine years after the attacks, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
But in October, Congress missed an important deadline to reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, and soon the first responders and survivors of the worst terrorist attack on American soil will receive notice that the programs that provide health care and offer financial support to our 9/11 heroes are expiring.
This is totally unacceptable in our opinion. Congress should have never allowed this vital legislation to expire.
These people must be taken care of without questions asked.
So, it was good to hear from U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., that lawmakers believe the Zadroga Act for 9/11 first responders and survivors will be made permanent this week.
King has announced that the bill should be voted on Wednesday or Thursday as part of a larger spending bill. King said if the larger bill passes, the Zadroga Act would be extended for another 75 years.
King also said the bill will include screenings for those who might not yet know they are ill.
The reauthorization of this much-needed legislation has the support of the majority of the House, and so far 66 senators are backing it.
It is pretty clear that this legislation will be approved and for good reason.
Those who endured the horrors of that day and now face health issues related to it shouldn’t face uncertainty from their own government over whether they will be compensated for their treatment.
The health of first responders and survivors of 9/11 should be taken care of for as long as it is needed.
They’ve indeed earned it.