ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:
Flanked by first responders and survivors of the 9/11 attacks, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and senators and representatives from New York and New Jersey called on the U.S. Senate to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
“This should not be a partisan fight,” Senator Kirsten Gillbrand said. “We have an undeniable, moral obligation to provide these 9/11 heroes with all of the care that they need. It’s time to keep our promise to them and pass this bill in the U.S. Senate.”
The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed the House of Representatives in September largely along party lines but with the support of 17 Republican representatives. Gillibrand remarked that she expects all Democratic senators will vote for the bill and hopes it will pass before the end of the year. President Obama has said he would sign the bill into law should it pass the U.S. Senate.
“New York and every other state in this nation is counting on the U.S. Senate to do the right thing and to do it right now,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “We cannot wait any longer for action on this legislation. Let us work together, both sides of the aisle, now to ensure that all those who survived the attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others receive the healthcare they need and they deserve. This is an American obligation.”
The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would provide $7.4 billion dollars in aid to first responders and survivors of the World Trade Center attacks. More than 30,000 responders and survivors have received medical care due to the exposure to toxins at Ground Zero. These victims hail from all 50 states and 428 of the 435 congressional districts.
“Just like soldiers, these people volunteered and rushed to danger and risked their lives for our freedom and for the greater good,” Sen. Charles Schumer said of the first responders. “Since when does America turn its back on people like that? And if we don’t pass this bill, that’s what this country, this great country of ours will be doing. So we have a moral imperative, not just to those who were brave on those days following 9/11, but to future citizens who will be brave.”
The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was named for James Zadroga, a New York City Police Department officer, who was a first responder on September 11, 2001. Zadroga died in 2006 from the respiratory disease he contracted while working at Ground Zero in the wake of the attacks.
Bloomberg, Gillibrand and Schumer were joined by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, Michael McMahon and Anthony Weiner and various labor union leaders. Bloomberg, 9/11 survivors, first responders, and labor leaders spent the day lobbying key Republican senators to pass the bill.