The U.S. House proved on Friday that both Democrats and Republicans can indeed set aside political differences to do something good for the country. An overwhelming House majority passed replenishments for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Funds.
"The House on Friday overwhelmingly passed a bill to reauthorize the compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks," reports Fox News. "It comes as the $7 billion 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund is being depleted and has cut benefit payments by up to 70 percent. The bill — which passed in the House 402-12 — would ensure the fund can pay benefits for 70 years."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already agreed to bring the bill to a floor vote once it hits the Senate. In a statement on Friday, he praised the first responders for their intense heroism on that fateful day in 2001.
"The first responders who rushed into danger on September 11th, 2001 are the very definition of American heroes and patriots," McConnell said. "The Senate has never forgotten the Victim Compensation Fund and we aren’t about to start now. Nothing about our shared goal to provide for these heroes is remotely partisan. We will consider this important legislation soon."
The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund was created to aid the first responders who led the rescue effort on Ground Zero for several months after the Twin Towers collapsed on 9/11 — a tragedy that caused many permanent illnesses. CBS News provides some background on the fund:
Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010 ... The act was reauthorized in 2015 for 90 years. But a portion of the law — the Victim Compensation Fund — was only funded for five years, through the end of 2020. The fund aimed to provide necessary financial support for the thousands who suffered serious medical issues, including a spate of cancer diagnoses, after the 2001 attacks.
Dr. Jacqueline Moline, Chair of Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention at Hofstra's School of Medicine, testified before the panel that currently, more than 11,000 types of cancer have been reported since the attacks on 9/11, ranging from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, to debilitating lung cancers.
Several members of the New York congressional delegation, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, both Democrats, and GOP Rep. Peter King, have introduced the Never Forget the Heroes Act of 2019 to reauthorize the Victim Compensation Fund.
Former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart has been one of the biggest outspoken advocates of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and recently gave an impassioned speech to Congress for playing political football with it — singling out Republicans and Democrats, in the process.
"As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to," Stewart said. "Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one."