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Pascrell Joins Call to Extend the Zadroga Act

Rep. Pascrell joins first responders, survivors, and Jon Stewart calling on Congressional leaders to extend & fully fund the Zadroga Act by year’s end

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 3, 2015) – Today, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) joined Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, 9/11 advocate John Feal, 9/11 first responders, 9/11 survivors, and members of the Senate and House to call on Congress to extend and fully fund the bipartisan James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act by year’s end. Authorization for the Zadroga Act, which created the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, expired Oct. 1, 2015.

“The selfless heroes of Ground Zero should, under no circumstances, be left holding the bag for their medical costs. We have built broad, bipartisan support to meet this venerable duty of ours and our goal is within sight,” said Pascrell, who represents North Arlington, the hometown of James Zadroga. He is also Chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus and Co-chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus. “Congress must do right by our heroes and continue the progress we have made since the law’s initial passage. We will not rest until the Zadroga 9/11 Health Reauthorization Act is signed by the President.”

The press conference occurred as Congress worked to wrap-up its remaining agenda items for the year. With the end of session approaching, time is running out to renew and fully-fund programs that provide health care and compensation to 9/11 first responders and survivors.  Despite widespread bipartisan support including 256 co-sponsors in the House and 66 in the Senate, Congressional leaders have failed to bring the reauthorization bill to a vote. As a result of their inaction, tens of thousands of men and women from all 50 states and 433 of 435 congressional districts have been forced to live in fear that the programs on which their lives depend will be torn away from them and their families.

Pascrell held a public event in May in North Arlington, New Jersey, to call on the House to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. The bipartisan legislation is named in honor of James Zadroga, a North Arlington resident and New York City Police Department officer, who died of a respiratory disease that has been attributed to his participation in rescue and recovery operations following the September 11th attacks. Along with providing medical monitoring and treatment for 9/11 first responders, the Zadroga legislation would also extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provides monetary compensation for those physically injured by the attacks or by response activities and debris removal. These programs would be made permanent under the reauthorization.

 

BACKGROUND ON THE 9/11 HEALTH CRISIS

As the nation recovered from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a public health disaster was just beginning to unfold. After 9/11, Americans from all 50 states rushed to Ground Zero to assist with the rescue and recovery effort. Thousands of brave men and women risked their lives to help others, working in extremely hazardous conditions often without proper protective equipment while the Federal Government assured them that the air was safe. Many were injured in the course of this work.

Rescue and recovery workers breathed in a toxic stew of chemicals, asbestos, pulverized cement, and other health hazards released into the air when the towers fell, and as the site smoldered for months. The dust cloud that rolled through lower Manhattan after the attacks settled in homes, offices, and buildings – exposing tens of thousands more residents, students area workers to the same toxins.

Today, more than 33,000 9/11 responders and survivors are struggling with illnesses or injuries caused by the attacks. They live in every state and 433 out of 435 Congressional districts nationwide. Many are disabled and can no longer work. They are suffering from a host of chronic diseases: asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, to name but a few. Medical research has identified more than 50 types of cancer caused by 9/11 toxins. At least 4,166 people have been diagnosed with cancers caused or made worse by 9/11 – a number that is sure to grow in the years to come.

To date over 94 NYPD police officers have reportedly died from their 9/11 injuries since 9/11, more than were killed on 9/11 and more than 110 FDNY firefighters have also died with in the years since, with more deaths expected among all the responders and survivors.

-Office of Congressman Pascrell