Legislation to establish health treatment and monitoring programs for World Trade Center responders was overwhelmingly approved by a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives.
H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, was approved by a vote of 268-160. The vote to pass the bill followed an attempt by Representative Christopher Lee (R-NY) and House Republican Leadership to amend H.R. 847 by adding unrelated legislation to repeal a portion of the healthcare reform law and reform the medical malpractice system. The motion failed by a vote of 185-244. Had the motion succeeded, it would have effectively killed the bill.
“I am pleased that the 9/11 Act passed the House by an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” said International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) General President Harold Schaitberger. “World Trade Center responders know they are finally one step closer to receiving the care and benefits they need and deserve.”
Today’s vote follows a previous attempt to pass H.R. 847 in the House earlier this year under rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. That attempt fell 21 votes short of a two-thirds majority.
Following that setback, the IAFF lobbied extensively to bring the bill back up under regular order, supplementing the efforts of New York Local 94 and Local 854.
“Our two New York City affiliates, their leadership and their members lobbied tirelessly to move the 9/11 Act forward,” said Schaitberger. “Today’s vote is proof that effective and targeted lobbying works.”
Schaitberger thanked the bill’s sponsors and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her leadership and efforts to get the bill to the House floor. The bill now proceeds to the Senate.
“Speaker Pelosi made a promise to us to get this done because it had been too long and this bill needed to go to the House floor. Today she fulfilled her promise,” Schaitberger said.
Congress first established screening, treatment and compensation programs for 9/11 responders shortly after the terrorist attacks, and has continued to provide funding for the programs each year since. H.R. 847, sponsored by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY), would strengthen the existing programs in three important ways – expand coverage to include those who lived near Ground Zero, create a funding mechanism so the program is not subject to annual appropriations and reopen the Victims Compensation Fund so people who became ill after the Fund was closed in 2003 can receive compensation.