On the heals of the Paris attacks by ISIS, top tier Republican candidate for President, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, announced yesterday that he will co-sponsor the James Zadroga Re-Authorization Act which will fully protect 9/11 cancer victims. His support brings the number of Senators supporting re-authorization to 66. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina recently announced his support for Zadroga re-authorization, in addition Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and George Pataki. It is likely that the new support of Sen. Rubio will move the other Republican candidates for President to take a public position on the Zadroga re-authorization.
To date, Republican Presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, has not stated his position on re-authorization of the Zadroga Act. Surprisingly, neither Gov. Chris Christie nor Donald Trump have indicated their support for the Zadroga Act re-authorization despite living close to the 9/11 disaster. Jeb Bush has been silent on the issue despite his brother, former President George W. Bush, creating the original Victim Compensation Fund.
The Zadroga Act extension was also endorsed yesterday by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Despite the new support of Senator Rubio, who could well be our next President, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) continues to prevent the full Zadroga Act re-authorization bill to come to the House floor for a vote as does House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
In light of the recent ISIS attacks in Paris, and the strong likelihood that the United States will need it’s first responders to selflessly rescue and recover more American victims in the future after future attacks similar to 9/11, the need to pass the Zadroga Act re-authorization is more urgent than ever.
Permanently renewing legislation to benefit Ground Zero first responders could be financed by closing a tax loophole. Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, perhaps the staunchest supporter of the full and permanent re-authorization of the Zadroga Act in the Senate, announced yesterday that closing a tax loophole allowing foreign insurance companies to avoid paying taxes in the U.S. could fully fund the Zadroga re-authorization. That is a win-win for American taxpayers and 9/11 first responders with cancer.
In the House of Representatives, New York Republican Rep. Peter King and Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler and Rep. Carolyn Maloney continue to be heroes in pushing full re-authorization of the Zadroga Act.
The ISIS attacks in Paris last Friday were a game changer in how our country fights radical Islamic terrorism. If the U.S. is attacked again in the near future, our first responders and volunteers need to know that our country will take care of any illnesses or injuries they suffer while they rescue innocent civilians. In many ways, they are no different than our troops who have already fought (and continue to fight) in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. All the Zadroga Act re-authorization does is give sick responders similar medical care and compensation like wounded warriors.
Medical care for 9/11 responders has already expired. It is time that the House and Senate work out any legislative differences and allow the Zadroga Act Extension bill to come to the vote on the floor.
Otherwise, we may not be prepared for another Paris.