New York Delegation Leads Passage of First Responders’ 9/11 Heath and Compensation Act
The afternoon was cold, but the hearts and spirits of those assembled in the plaza of 7 World Trade Center, the first restored tower, were deeply warmed by the announcement of the passage of the James Zadrouga First Responders 9/11 Heath and Compensation Act. Standing in the blustery cold of the bright December day, members of the New York Congressional delegation, representatives of an array of first responders including police, fire and emergency workers, survivor and union representatives, heard New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg declare that “We all remember the strong sense of shared purpose we felt in the wake of 9/11… the powerful pride that we felt in being Americans. Not Democrats or Republicans, urban or rural, from a big state or a small state – but Americans….the people I’m standing with today have been able to recapture that sense of patriotic unity for the sake of those who sacrificed so much.”
The Zadrouga Bill, which faced years of opposition, was passed December 22 during the lame duck congressional session. The notable efforts of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer in the Senate and Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Peter King in the House, helped assure that medical coverage and financial aid will be provided to 9/11 heroes suffering from illnesses stemming from their work at Ground Zero. The active lobbying by cops, fire fighters, “hardhats,” emergency workers Union leaders, and others who traveled to Washington to speak with legislators was recognized as integral to the bill’s passage.
Noting that the Bill passed on the same day as the replanting of the ‘Survivor Tree’ – found “charred and twisted under the rubble…a living symbol of our resilience and our endurance,” Mayor Bloomberg said “actions on Capitol Hill were a testament to that spirit” as was the work of “the people standing here – and countless others – (who) worked tirelessly to negotiate changes and build the necessary support to revive and pass that bill.”
Strong leadership of the Congressional effort came from the women of the New York Congressional Delegation, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who declared “hope is finally here!” and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Maloney has worked been a proponent of the legislation since its introduction; Gillibrand’s efforts in the Senate helped propel the bill towards passage.