Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, called us here in the White House booth, responding to the exchange White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and I had about the 9/11 First Responders Health bill.
“I suppose he can’t know everything about the thousands of bills introduced in Congress each year,” Maloney said, “but from your questioning it looks like the 9/11 health bill is not on the White House’s radar. Our first responders are sick and many are dying and the next few days may be the last opportunity to get them the care they need.”
Maloney continued: “The White House wasn’t there at the beginning of this effort but if President Obama could be there now it could make all the difference. It’s the 9th inning. We need a closer. Mr President, please step up an help rescue the rescuers!”
I asked Maloney why the White House “wasn’t there at the beginning,” but she said she wanted to focus on the next few days when the bill comes up for another vote. Then she had to get off the phone to go vote.
The White House, in response to my questions for Gibbs this morning, sent me this written statement from September.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2010
Statement by the President on the House Approval of the
James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
“We will never forget the searing images of September 11, 2001. And we will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers, and first responders who risked their lives to save others. In the face of unspeakable brutality and evil, these brave men and women demonstrated the enduring strength of our values and the American spirit. Many who survived did not emerge from the dust and debris unscathed, facing continuing health problems as a result of their service. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would ensure that rescue and recovery workers, residents, students, and others suffering from health consequences related to the World Trade Center disaster have access to the medical monitoring and treatment they need. It is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks. I applaud the House for its support of this bill and for standing up on behalf of these heroes, who served our country in its time of greatest need. I look forward to Congress completing consideration of this legislation so I can sign it into law.”