A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers have introduced a bill to permanently establish the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Rep. Carolyn Maloney says the new bill would extend it for 70 years.
“We do not want to do this again. We need to get this authorized, introduced, and passed so there is a permanent fund for those that are sick and need the help,” Maloney said.
Recently the Special Master of the 9/11 VCF said rewards would be drastically cut because the fund is running out of dollars. Rep. Jerry Nadler says the financial need has increased in recent years.
“When we passed the bill we didn’t list cancer as one of the diseases. You couldn’t prove it yet. We set up a committee that could add diseases and of course we added cancer. Now we have so many cancer cases,” Nadler said.
Comedian Jon Stewart has been blasting Congress since he was host of The Daily Show, on what he calls their failure to fund the 9/11 victim program. Now he's dedicated his celebrity towards the cause.
“This bill, this program already exists. It's like you have a Starbucks card. We're just asking to get a little more money on it," Stewart said. "It already exists. It's already shown itself to be effective. It's already shown to relieve some of the stresses that these grieving families are going through.”
Many 9/11 first responders have used their own tragic circumstances to advocate for others in need. John Feal established the Feal Good Foundation after losing his foot to an 8,000-pound steel beam.
“We’re going to challenge every member of Congress, the House and Senate," Feal said. "We’re going to challenge your empathy. We’re going to challenge your humanity.”
Senator Chuck Schumer remembers being at Ground Zero after 9/11, and the sacrifices first responders made.
“We’re going to help you all the way because that’s what a moral obligation is," Schumer said. "We don’t say to our soldiers that die in the battlefield we’ll cover thirty percent of your injuries or forty percent of your pain and suffering. We cover it all and the same should be true here.”
The current federal 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is set to expire in 2020.