Source: New York Magazine
On October 1, the World Trade Center Health Program expired. The legislation helped pay for the medical costs of 9/11 first responders; hundreds have already died from illnesses stemming from what they inhaled at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001.
The legislation still hasn’t been renewed, and New York legislators have been busy trying to rally their colleagues to pass a long-term extension of the law so those at the mercy of Congress don’t have to worry about their health care disappearing every few years. However, there aren’t many chances to renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — named after a first responder who died in 2006 — before the year ends.
Plenty of New York politicians gathered at the World Trade Center to let everyone know just how disgraceful they thought it was that it had proven so difficult to pass such a noncontroversial bit of legislation with so many co-sponsors.
“It’s a national scandal,” Representative Carolyn Maloney said. “There are hundreds of people that are sick at this time, with more to come, unfortunately,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton added. “Some of those illnesses take quite a while to develop, so this bill is very, very important.”
“I’ll tell you the legislation I’d like to propose,” Senator Chuck Schumer said. “That those who block this legislation in its final week be required to attend a funeral of a first responder who rushed to the towers, got toxic stuff in his body, and died. Let them come to the funeral and see what they’re making happen.”
“It is unpatriotic to ignore the needs of our first responders,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “It is un-American that this has stalled, and it is immoral that help hasn’t come to our heroes.” According to the New York Daily News, about 100 people attended the rally.
Next to the speakers stood a 9-year-old boy whose father died in 2009. He held a sign that read, “Don’t let other dads die! Pass a fully funded permanent Zadroga Bill. I miss my dad.”
Last week, another rally took place in Washington DC at the Capitol. Jon Stewart — who invited a bunch of first responders to his The Daily Show back in 2010 to push lawmakers to pass the original bill — brought around a bunch of people who worked at Ground Zero to try and convince a few lawmakers to hurry things along.
Stewart noted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sponsored a healthcare bill intended to help workers in Kentucky who were injured at nuclear power plants. “How in good conscience can you deny them the very thing that you have proudly brought to the people of your (home) state?” Stewart asked. “Please, personally ask him that.”