WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The House of Representatives voted Friday to approve legislation extending the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund until 2090.
The bill was renamed last week as the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising quick action on the bill to get it to President Donald Trump’s desk.
Congressman Tom Reed, R-New York, says the bill had strong support from both parties.
“You never forget. 9/11 is just one of those moments that is engrained,” Reed said. “When we talk about first responders who are suffering illnesses from 9/11, that cost is a rightful prioritization of taxpayer dollars.”
Congressman Joe Morelle, D-New York, says the victims are not limited to New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
“Of the 435 congressional districts, 433 have people and families who could benefit from this fund,” he said.
The bill passed the House by a 402-12 vote thanks in large part to lobbying efforts by first responders now suffering the effects of the toxic environment at Ground Zero, Shanksville and the Pentagon, not to mention the high-profile testimony of comedian John Stewart, who shamed lawmakers at a hearing.
“But again, this is the semifinals,” Stewart said. “The finals are two weeks from now in the Senate.”
One of the first responder victims, Luis Alvarez, died shortly after urging lawmakers to pass the bill.
“It was certainly a shame to see it come to this, where we had to push this vote, but thankfully, common sense prevailed,” Congressman Anthony Brindisi said.
Brindisi, D-New York, says he wants the Senate to act quickly since 9/11 victims’ payments have been cut with the fund running out of money.
Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, said Brindisi and the victims shouldn’t worry because the Senate will act quickly on the measure.
“We want to make sure that those first responders are taken care of,” Toomey said.