September 11 Responders and Legislators Ring Closing Bell at NYSE to Celebrate Zadroga Act ReauthorizationMar 3, 2016
U.S. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Dan Donovan, along with 9/11 survivors, responders and doctors, rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on February 22, 2016 to celebrate the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Rep. Maloney, with Reps. Nadler, Donovan and Peter King, introduced the legislation in the House. The reauthorization was attached to a year-end omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2015, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports. A coalition of legislators and organizations including Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, the FealGood Foundation, the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and Council District 37 worked together for the reauthorization. More than a dozen responders, survivors and doctors joined the legislators for the closing bell event.
The Zadroga Act, passed in 2010, provides health benefits and compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors who suffer illnesses and injuries from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The act was named for police officer James Zadroga, who died in January 2006 from illness caused by toxic exposures at ground zero.
Under the reauthorization, health benefits are extended for 75 years—until 2090—the New York Daily News reports. The World Trade Center Health Program expired in October 2015 and was continuing to run running on remaining funds but would have lapsed entirely in 2016, if reauthorization had not occurred. The Victim Compensation Fund was scheduled to expire in October 2016, but is now extended for another five years. The VC provides benefits to first responders too sick to work and to their families.
"Today, more than 70,000 of responders and survivors rely on the World Trade Center Health Program for medical monitoring and treatment for 9/11 related illnesses," Rep. Maloney said on Monday, the Daily Eagle reports. "The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is also there to help these men and women become financially whole again."
In the face of the expiration of funding, "last year, brave men and women locked arms and took to the halls of Congress to make their case. They demanded not just to be heard, but for Congress to act, and they won. Today we celebrate that victory," Maloney said. New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, a leader in both the original passage and the reauthorization, and Chuck Schumer were part of the bipartisan coalition that lobbied for reauthorization.
Citizens for Extension of the Zadroga Act says that about 33,000 responders and survivors suffer a variety of illnesses, including chronic respiratory conditions and gastric reflux. Researchers have identified more than 50 types of cancer linked to toxins released when the twin towers fell. Some responders and survivors became ill soon after 9/11, but many of 9/11-related illnesses took years to emerge. Tens of thousands of people—first responders, those who fled the buildings on 9/11, rescue and recovery workers, and local residents—were exposed to toxins. Health experts expect illnesses to continue to develop for years to come, which is why the health care and monitoring provided by the Zadroga Act remain important.