Reps. Maloney, Nadler and King urge exemption from sequester for 9/11 Health Act

Dec 7, 2012
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D), Jerrold Nadler (D), and Peter King (R) today sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate and President Obama asking that the programs created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act be exempted from the automatic budget cuts mandated by the 2011 debt-limit bill if no agreement is reached in deficit negotiations between the President and Congress to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

The Office of Management and Budget has projected a cut of 7.6% to the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) if the $1.2 trillion sequester cuts to defense and domestic programs go forward. That 7.6% spending reduction translates to cuts in the WTC Health Program of approximately $118 million over the course of its current projected existence, and to the VCF of about $211 million should Congress fail to strike an agreement before January.

“Many federal health programs, including several that benefit veterans, were exempted from the sequestration trigger-- but not those who desperately need their health care and other costs met because they ran toward Ground Zero instead of from Ground Zero,” Rep. Maloney said. “The government has a responsibility to those first responders, and to the workers and residents near the site. It took Congress far too long to agree to help them with this legislation, and it would be especially brutal to take away their aid now.”

“We must safeguard every last dollar we allocated for our bill, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and ensure that sequestration does not force us to ration assistance for the sick,” said Rep. Nadler.  “Thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors are sick today because of their exposure to toxins in and around Ground Zero, and they depend on this funding for their health and well-being.  We are calling on the House Leadership to exempt Zadroga from the looming sequester-borne cuts.”

"We have come too far and our 9/11 heroes have endured too much for this funding to be subjected to a bureaucratic reduction,” Rep. King said. “It would be a cruel hoax to finally allow these individuals to start their necessary treatment, only to find out they will not be able to continue it through no fault of their own."

A copy of the text of the letter is reprinted below.


December 6, 2012

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20502

The Honorable Harry Reid                                         The Honorable John Boehner
Majority Leader                                                          Speaker of the House
United States Senate                                                  U.S. House of Representatives
S-221 The Capitol                                                       H-232 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510                                            Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                               The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Republican Leader                                                      Democratic Leader
United States Senate                                                  U.S. House of Representatives
S-230 The Capitol                                                       H-204 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510                                            Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear President Obama, Majority Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner, Republican Leader McConnell, and Democratic Leader Pelosi:

As you negotiate a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, we ask that whatever action you take not make cuts to the programs implemented under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The law established the World Trade Center Health Program that provides medical care to individuals who got sick from the toxic plume of Ground Zero. It also reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide for economic losses and harm. We made sure the law was fully paid for and did not add to the deficit.

Earlier this fall we wrote to the Office of Management and Budget with concerns raised by the Sequestration Transparency Act report it issued. Similar health and compensation programs are exempted from sequestration by the February 2010 Pay-Go Statute. Given that the Zadroga Act was not signed into law until January 2011, it was not included in this list.  This omission was neither intentional nor an oversight; it was merely a matter of timing. Nevertheless, the omission exists, and therefore, as outlined in the OMB report, the programs are subject to a 7.6% automatic cut. These cuts could jeopardize the care for those who aided our country in a time of tremendous need. We urge that funding for these programs should not be reduced as part of an overall deal and that these be added to a list of exempt programs.

The second anniversary of the Zadroga Act being signed into law, January 2, 2013, is the same day sequestration is scheduled to occur if Congress does not act. In developing a comprehensive plan to prevent these automatic cuts we hope you will ensure the first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks can continue to access the medical care and compensation as provided under the law.


CAROLYN B. MALONEY                       

PETER T. KING              

Members of Congress