A House panel today passed a bill to authorize additional funding for the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund through the year 2090. The bill passed one day after comedian and 9-11 first responders advocate Jon Stewart spoke passionately in favor of extending the funding.
Stewart sharply criticized members of Congress for not attending a subcommittee hearing on the issue, reports CNN:
The bill passed on a voice vote without opposition and now heads to the House floor for the full chamber to vote. The vote comes after the fund's administrator announced awards for pending and future claims would have to be cut unless Congress acted.
"Every sick responder and survivor should be treated with the same dignity and compassion," said House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York. "All responders and survivors, whether they got sick in 2015 or will get sick in 2025 or 2035, should be properly compensated. Congress must act to make that happen."
The current law was renewed in 2015 and is set to expire in 2020. At the time of its last renewal, Congress appropriated $4.6 billion to the fund, bringing the total appropriated amount of the fund over the years to $7.4 billion.
The new bill would extend the expiration to 2090. It does not call for a specific amount of funds but whatever sums necessary through 2090.
The fund's administrator announced in February that there was insufficient funding to pay all claims. The fund has seen a significant rise in claims in the past two years — over 24,000 claims in 2017, 2018 and January 2019. That's more claims than in the first five years of the fund combined — when only 19,000 claims were filed.
Here's the video of Stewart speaking to lawmakers.
Stewart told CNN the funding for health care should be provided to the 9-11 first responders "indefinitely for the lives of these men and women and not for five years."
Worth remembering that so much of this would not be needed in a country where everyone had access to health care, regardless of their health or employment or wealth status.
Many ways to do it.
This ain't it.
Day after Jon Stewart plea, House panel advances bill to boost September 11th Victims Compensation Fund [By Alex Rogers and Eli Watkins, CNN]