Posted Jul 23, 2019 by Turley, Hansen & Rosasco on 9/11 Victim Compensation
Many individuals and families have been waiting for this day for many years. On Tuesday, July 23, 2019 – the Senate gathered to vote on a bill to extend the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to the year 2090. As first responders and families who lost loved ones to 9/11 illnesses gathered in the courtroom, we all waited patiently for the vote to come to an end – hoping it would prevent these individuals from sitting in these seats ever again.
With opposition from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), followed by two heartfelt, passionate and unwavering speeches by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), the Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of passing the bill – with 97 in favor and 2 in opposition – for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to be reauthorized and supported until 2090. This is a tremendous victory for many, to say the absolute least.
This is something many first responders and 9/11 survivors have anxiously waited for, as many more people continue to be diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses. The bill will continue to compensate every individual whose health – whose life – was impacted by the attacks of September 11, 2001. It was a great victory for the bill to pass in the House of Representatives earlier this month, and now that the Senate has also approved the bill, we are just steps away from the final Presidential Seal of Approval.
As news spread that the 9/11 Fund was in danger of running out of money by 2020, it was a true horror story to so many who are still being diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer types and other similar conditions. For families struggling to get by financially, individuals disabled by their conditions, and residents and workers of Downtown Manhattan trying to recover physically and mentally from the exposure to the dust cloud that covered New York City, these last few weeks have been unimaginable. We could hear the fear in our clients’ voices at the thought of the fund running out of money. To sit here today and know that the Senate has passed this bill brings us a great amount of pride and joy to the number of individuals and families we will continue to be able to help.
The new bill was developed to extend the date to receive claims by decades, thus allowing new cases the opportunity to receive compensation. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the reauthorization and extension of the 9/11 Fund will cost about $10 billion over the next 10 years, keeping in mind the expectation of more claims to be filed, and more related diagnoses to come forward.
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) prevented the bill from getting a unanimous decision from the Senate, explaining that other costs would need to be cut before it could be passed.
As the discussion and media surrounding the 9/11 Fund continued through the last few weeks, we were inspired by the many first responders who were brave enough to come forward and speak about their stories – how 9/11 impacted their lives, their families, and their health beyond what anyone could possibly imagine. In response to the overwhelming amount of support and fights from first responders to move forward, the bill was renamed to include James Zadroga, Luis Alvarez, and Ray Pfeifer – all 9/11 responders who became ill as a result of their time at Ground Zero. All three men have since passed, but their names and stories will be remembered forever for the great sacrifice they gave on September 11, 2001, the months that followed, and the days of their lives they spent advocating for all first responders and 9/11 survivors.
Thank you to every 9/11 responder, survivor, and advocate for getting this bill this far. We are just one vote away from victim compensation funding until 2090.
If you have any questions about getting your 9/11-related illness registered with the WTC Health Program or filing a claim for compensation with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, contact our attorneys at Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP today. You can get a free claim review here.