The House and the Senate both voted to extend the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, giving coverage to those afflicted with Ground Zero-related health woes for the next 75 years.
“It’s a very good day,” said Joseph Zadroga, whose firefighter son James died in January 2006 from health issues caused by his time in toxic Lower Manhattan after the World Trade Center attack.
The act is named for New York City Police Detective James Zadroga who spent hundreds of hours searching for victims of 9/11.
“I always say it’s not a done deal until it’s a done deal. There were some bumps in the road, but we had some great support this time.”
In addition to extending the healthcare program for first responders and others suffering lingering 9/11 health issues, Congress renewed the Victims Compensation Fund for another five years to aid first responders too sick to work and their families.
“After 15 years, the heroes and survivors of 9/11 will know that their health care is permanent and their compensation is full,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who fought for more than a decade to create the program and make it permanent.
Reauthorization took years, with first responders making hundreds of trips to the Capitol to guilt Congress into doing its job.
“This is a very important moment for all of us,” a teary-eyed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said during a press conference.
“All my gratitude goes to the first responders,” she said in a quavering voice. “This is my proudest day in Washington.”
Gratitude also to such people as Jon Stewart, who fought so relentlessly to help aid the heroes of September 11 and afterwards.
And vindication for all those first responders who called representatives, traveled to D.C.. and did so much legwork in “guilting” Congress to finally do the right thing.