Legislators and 9/11 First Responders Ring Closing Bell at Stock Exchange to Celebrate Reauthorization of Zadroga Act

On Monday, February 22, 2016, U.S. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Dan Donovan joined 9/11 survivors and responders to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange in honor of the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Rep. Maloney, who introduced the legislation with Nadler, and Reps. Peter King and Donovan, attached the legislation to an omnibus spending bill that was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2015, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports. A number of organizations worked to pass the reauthorization, including Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, the FealGood Foundation, the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and Council District 37. More than a dozen responders, survivors and doctors joined the legislators for the event. 

The Zadroga Act provides health benefits and compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors who suffer illnesses and injuries from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The act was named for police officer James Zadroga, who died in January 2006 from illness caused by toxic exposures at ground zero.

The reauthorization extends health benefits for 75 years, until 2090, the New York Daily News reports. The World Trade Center Health Program had expired in October 2015 and was running on remaining funds. The program would have lapsed entirely in 2016, if not reauthorized. The Victim Compensation Fund was set to expire in October 2016, but is now extended for another five years and will provide benefits to first responders too sick to work and to their families.

“Today, more than 70,000 of responders and survivors rely on the World Trade Center Health Program for medical monitoring and treatment for 9/11 related illnesses,” Rep. Maloney said on Monday, the Daily Eagle reports. “The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is also there to help these men and women become financially whole again.”

The programs would have lapsed “but then, last year, brave men and women locked arms and took to the halls of Congress to make their case. They demanded not just to be heard, but for Congress to act, and they won. Today we celebrate that victory,” Maloney said. New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer were also part of the bipartisan coalition that worked for the Zadroga Act  reauthorization.

Citizens for Extension of the Zadroga Act says that about 33,000 responders and survivors suffer a variety of ailments, including chronic respiratory conditions and gastric reflux. Medical researchers have identified more than 50 types of cancer linked to toxins released when the towers fell. While some responders and survivors became ill soon after 9/11, many of the 9/11-related illnesses took years to emerge. Tens of thousands of people—first responders, those fleeing the buildings on 9/11, rescue and recovery workers, and local residents—were exposed to toxins and health experts expect illnesses to continue to develop for years to come.

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