Maloney & Hinchey Hail Advance of Full

Feb 13, 2003
Press Release
As the House and Senate finalized an omnibus appropriations bill that includes nearly $1 billion in aid to New York City and State for September 11th related costs, Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) lauded the inclusion of the full $90 million needed for the medical monitoring of Ground Zero heroes who continue to suffer high rates of respiratory illness from the disaster. The next step for this year's bill are votes in the House and Senate, expected before . Because the bill was developed and agreed upon by House and Senate leaders, final passage of the bill is considered highly likely. After passage, the bill would require the President's signature. Current indications are that the administration supports the bill.

"When several of us in the New York delegation, with other members of Congress, offered our gallery seats to Ground Zero rescue workers, we hoped the Republican leadership and the White House would hear their voices. Clearly that has happened and I congratulate them for supporting this funding initiative," Congresswoman Maloney said. "Senator Clinton and others in the New York delegation worked very hard to achieve this victory, and I congratulate the Senator and the New York delegation for overcoming so many obstacles to achieve this. I want to thank all those involved in conference negotiations on these funds, including Senator Clinton, Senator Schumer, and Congressman Jim Walsh (NY), for including the full funds necessary. The $90 million now included in the advancing omnibus appropriations bill is a huge step in the right direction in our efforts to help these heroes. After working for months to advocate for these funds, it is gratifying to see a successful effort nearing conclusion."

Congressman Hinchey said, "We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the heroes of September 11th. The very least the federal government can do is to ensure that any health problems they've experienced as a result of their work at Ground Zero receive the best possible medical attention. I think anyone looking at this situation would reach that same conclusion. It just took some time to get everyone to come to the table. Senator Clinton led the New York delegation in this effort and deserves credit for seeing this through to its successful conclusion. The entire delegation can be proud of its work on behalf of these brave Americans."

BACKGROUND: When thousands of laborers, police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers raced to ground zero after the September 11th attacks, the entire nation recognized their courage and heroism, but 16 months after the disaster, executive branch leaders have been balking at fully funding the medical program that could monitor the long term health needs of these recovery workers.

When thousands of laborers, police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers raced to ground zero after the September 11 attacks, the entire nation recognized their courage and heroism, but 16 months after the disaster, executive branch leaders have been balking at fully funding the medical program that could monitor the long term health needs of these recovery workers.

A medical program for the comprehensive monitoring of 9/11 workers' health needs caused by toxins from destruction of the World Trade Center, to be managed through the Mt. Sinai Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine, could be established with a $90 million federal grant. The funds were previously approved by Congress as part of a supplemental appropriations bill, but the funds did not become available because the President chose not to release them.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2003, nine rescue workers of the September 11th disaster attended the President's State of the Union address, at the invitation of Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Maurice Hinchey (NY), and seven other members of Congress, in an effort to draw to the President's attention the health needs of Ground Zero workers and volunteers suffering from the threat of long-term illnesses from toxins at the site. Congresswoman Maloney said of the effort, "We feel that if the President really knew the facts, he would have his Administration cut the check in a NY minute, and this is an effort to bring this issue to his attention directly."

In recent months, Maloney and members of the New York delegation have sent four separate letters to the President (attached to this release), urging his leadership in allocating federal funds for a health monitoring program for rescue workers. In the most recent letter of January 16, 2003, Representatives Maloney and José Serrano, with eleven other members of the New York delegation, notify the President of findings in a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, that Ground Zero workers who were exposed to high concentrations of pollution may develop chronic illnesses, including respiratory and cardiovascular complications.

https://maloney.house.gov/Studies reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr ) and the New England Journal of Medicine (https://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/347/11/806 ) detail a much higher incidence of debilitating throat and lung disorders and bronchial afflictions, and other related illnesses, in those who worked at Ground Zero. Mount Sinai Medical Center reports that of the rescue workers and volunteers screened to date, through an initial federal grant of $12 million, more than half have persistent upper respiratory inflammation and more than 25 percent have conditions typically associated with lower respiratory disease, rates that are more than three times what is found in the general population, while many others have gastrointestinal acid reflux and posttraumatic stress disorder. Only 9,000 of the 40,000 workers and volunteers involved in ground zero recovery efforts can be screened through the initial program, while the screening of the remaining 26,000 depends largely on additional federal funds for the program.

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