Lawmakers and first responders sound the alarm on the fund 9/11


WASHINGTON (AP) – More than 17 years after the September 11 attacks, first responders and their supporters were back on Capitol Hill Monday, urging Congress to ensure that a victims' compensation fund does not not be short of money.

Members of the New York delegation, joined by first responders, survivors and their families, lamented that the Justice Department announced that the September 11th Compensation Fund was running out of money and that future payments could be reduced by 70%.

Actor Jon Stewart, a longtime advocate of 9/11 supporters, described as "unconscious" the announcement made on Feb. 15 by the fund 's special master, claiming that Congress had had the day' s announcement. moral obligation to intervene.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill, Stewart said it was foolish to say that first responders and their families had to again "ask" money to Congress nearly 18 years later. attacks.

"It does not make sense – it's theater, you know it and I know it," said Stewart. "If the American people in their busy lives felt that these shenanigans were happening, they would be scandalized. "

With other speakers, he urged Congress to act quickly to restore the fund and ensure that it has enough money to pay benefits for the next 70 years, or as long as the victims need it.

Anything less than full and permanent funding is "shameful," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Adding that the record of the 2001 attacks "continues to multiply."

"It should not be difficult to pass this bill again," Gillibrand said.

The collapse of the mall in September 2001 sent a thick cloud of dust over Lower Manhattan. The fires burned for weeks. Thousands of construction workers, police, firefighters and others worked in soot, often without proper respiratory protection.

Since then, many have seen their health deteriorate, some suffering from respiratory or digestive disorders appeared almost immediately, others of diseases evolving as they age, including cancer.

After the 2001 attacks, nearly 40,000 people applied to the federal fund for people with potentially linked diseases at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania. About 19,000 applications are pending. Nearly $ 5 billion in benefits were awarded from the $ 7.3 billion fund.

Rupa Bhattacharyya, special head of the 9/11 Victims' Compensation Fund, said she was "painfully aware of the unfairness" of the potential cuts, but said that it would be better to allocate funds for each valid application rather than emptying some legitimate applicants.

The fund estimates that an additional $ 5 billion is needed to settle the outstanding receivables and that they expect to be submitted by the December 2020 deadline.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Stated that the cost of restoring the program is minimal compared to the cruelty of not doing so. "A great country can not impose a penny on the people who sacrifice their health for us," he said.

Senator Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Stated that the 9/11 attacks "were not just a New York event" or an East Coast event, but were an attack against all Americans.

"It's a sea-to-shine moment, a sea-to-shine promise, a sea-to-shine obligation," said Gardner. The victims' fund should "not be extended for a moment, but for a lifetime," he added.

Mr. Stewart, becoming comic again, said the Victims Fund "looked like a Starbucks card. We are just asking for a little more money. "

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