Reps. Maloney and Nadler: Judiciary Committee bill shortchanges 9/11 responders and survivors

Oct 29, 2015 Issues: 9/11 Attacks, Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), authors of the original James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and the legislation to permanently reauthorize the program, today released the following joint statement slamming the Republican House Judiciary Committee’s proposal to reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Below is the full statement from Reps. Maloney and Nadler:

“For the past 14 years we have devoted our time and energy to protecting the health and well-being of the heroes of September 11, 2001. Five years ago, along with our colleague from New York, Rep. Peter King, we were proud to pass the James Zadroga Act on behalf of 9/11 first responders and survivors. We knew at the time that five years would never be adequate to answer the sacrifices of those heroes. That is why, this year, together with countless advocacy organizations, we authored legislation to make these programs permanent and ensure that no one who risked everything that fateful day would be forgotten.

“A bill to permanently extend and fully fund the health and compensation programs for injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors currently has 237 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 61 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate. Instead of taking up this bipartisan legislation, which would clearly pass the House, a new bill was drafted and introduced with no bipartisan support or input from advocacy organizations – including the firefighters, police, and survivors the bill is intended to help – experts in the area, or even the members of Congress who have been fighting for this legislation for the past 14 years. None of us were consulted on drafting the legislation or notified that it would be introduced.

“The proposal attempting to extend the Victim Compensation Fund for only five years is deeply flawed, and could result in current claimants seeing their awards cut by as much as 60 percent. We cannot tell those who have been out of work for years because of their injuries, or the widows and children of those who have died, that the money they were promised could be cut by more than half.  That is not how Congress should treat American heroes.

“While we welcome the interest of the Committee Majority, this bill falls far short of our commitment to 9/11 first responders and survivors. We must permanently and properly reauthorize these programs to ensure we live up to our promise to never forget.”


Judiciary Action:
House Judiciary Republicans today introduced the September 11th VCF Reauthorization and U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Compensation Act. The legislation would extend the Victim Compensation Fund for 5 years, however, there are two primary problems with the approach taken by the legislation:

1)     Slashes current awards by 60 percent: The legislation fails to address severe underfunding in the current program, which will result in current claimants receiving just 60 percent of their awards.

2)     Fails to make the program permanent: The legislation only extends the VCF for 5 years, when a majority of the House supports a permanent extension.

Zadroga Reauthorization Act
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) authored the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1786) with Congressman Peter King (R-NY). The legislation would permanently extend the World Trade Center Health Program and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The programs were created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which passed in December 2010, and was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011.

The World Trade Center Health Program authorization expired at the end of September, and funding will run out by September 30, 2016. In the meantime, the program is in the process of shutting down, creating anxiety for those in treatment, and problems for program administration, medical staff retention and continuity of care.

The Victim Compensation, also authorized for five years by the 2010 Zadroga Act, will shut down by October 3, 2016 and will not be able to fully compensate 9/11 responders and survivors unless Congress extends the program and fully funds it.