Unfortunately for 9/11 cancer victims and their families, a few powerful House Committee Chairmen in Washington, DC are proposing to only temporarily extend and under-fund the 9/11 James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act. Specifically, they are proposing to extend the 9/11 Zadroga Act for only five years and cut funding up to 60%. This treatment of 9/11 heroes, who now have cancer or will in the future, is unconscionable. Members of the New York Congressional delegation held a rally today at the 9/11 Memorial to oppose any Republican gamesmanship which would result in insufficient funding for the 9/11 Zadroga Act Extension. New House Speaker Paul Ryan must lead and support national heroes on this moral issue.
9/11 first responders are like military veterans who selflessly risked their lives while New York City and the Pentagon were under attack from radical Islamist terrorists. Just like military veterans who served on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, they should have lifelong permanent treatment and compensation for their injuries. No true American would ever propose to defund our veterans’ hospitals or their disability compensation. None other than distinguished Senator and former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain (R- Arizona) supports a permanent and fully funded extension of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Our country now needs our new Speaker Paul Ryan to lead his fellow House leaders on this moral issue. Speaker Ryan is a practicing Catholic who many say takes Pope Francis as his “moral role model”. Pope Francis just prayed for all 9/11 victims at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City last month which I am sure moved Speaker Ryan. Certainly, Speaker Ryan must concede that a permanent and fully funded Zadroga Act extension is a moral issue of social justice as opposed to a simple Washington, DC budget issue.
Our hero first responders are dying of 9/11 related cancers every day. Currently, a majority of the House of Representatives are co-sponsors of the permanent and fully funded Zadroga Act extension (241 to be exact). Likewise, the Senate has a filibuster proof majority of 62 senators supporting a permanent extension. The recent insufficient temporary bills introduced in the House by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) should be non-starters on both majority principles and moral grounds.
Our new House Speaker Paul Ryan has the power persuade his House leadership to do the right thing on the 9/11 Zadroga Act extension. The rank and file are already on board. He must reject newly introduced anti-majoritarian bills on this moral issue.