Senate Passage of Never Forget the Heroes Act Fulfills the Obligation of Congress to Support 9/11 Responders and Survivors
On Tuesday, the US Senate voted 97-2 in favor of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, joining the House of Representatives in supporting legislation that will provide compensation for responders and survivorswho are suffering and dying from life-threatening illnesses due to their exposure to toxins in the aftermath of the attacks. Passage of the bill was the culmination of over 18 years of tireless advocacy efforts by responders, survivors and their supporters.
Congratulations to all who led the advocacy effort, including Jon Stewart, John Feal and the FealGood Foundation team, and all the advocates who supported them, including our members who called and wrote elected officials. We also thank Senators Gillibrand, Schumer and Gardner, as well as Representatives Maloney, Nadler and King whose leadership led to bi-partisan co-sponsors supporting the bill. At this milestone event, we also remember James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez, who the bill is named after, and the 2,300 other individuals who have died of 9/11 related illnesses, as well as their families.
On 9/11, and in the days and months following, thousands of recovery workers came to the aid of the 9/11 victims' families in our darkest hours. Despite grave risks to their health they worked tirelessly for months - day and night - searching in the rubble for the 2,753 who perished at Ground Zero. All of the 9/11 families are personally indebted to the responders for their valiant efforts to bring solace to our families.
For over 18 years, these same individuals made endless trips to Washington, DC - some like Ray Pfeifer traveling in wheelchairs, others like Luis Alvarez suffering from life-threatening illnesses, and others carrying oxygen tanks. Despite their life-threatening conditions they walked the halls of Congress pleading for the support they needed and deserved. They also selflessly advocated for the hundreds of thousands of survivors who were exposed to the toxic air in the days and months following the attacks - including those who lived, worked or went to school in the area - from the volunteers who passed out meals, to the stockbrokers who returned to work, and the school children who were urged to return to their classrooms in Lower Manhattan.
In the aftermath of the deadliest attack on our country, these individuals - responders and survivors alike - demonstrated their unwavering spirit of patriotism and resiliency. While we can never repay them, we applaud the efforts of all those involved in passage of the bill that will benefit so many individuals and their families.