Washington, D.C., October 26, 2001-Congress has approved a $250,000 one-time, lump sum federal payment to families of public safety officers killed or totally disabled in the line of duty. Until the vote, the maximum benefit was slightly more than $150,000. The Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) provision was included in a broad anti-terrorism bill that focused on expanding police powers. To ensure that the families of the firefighters lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks receive the full amount, the increase was made retroactive to January 1, 2001. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.
Legislation to raise the PSOB benefit was originally introduced by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) long before the Sept. 11 tragedy. But the loss of so many lives was clearly on the minds of lawmakers when they added the provision to the counterterrorism package. The Chairmen of the Judiciary Committees in the House and Senate–Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)–played a key role in ensuring that the provision remained in the final version of the bill.