The Senate is scheduled to vote on reauthorizing the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund next Tuesday, after Sen. Rand Paul blocked the bill from being passed by unanimous consent earlier this week. The bill has 73 cosponsors and is expected to pass by a wide bipartisan margin.
Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010, over opposition from some Republicans who balked at its $7 billion price tag. 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.
The House voted to permanently reauthorize the fund through 2092 earlier in July, with a vote of 402 to 12. However, Sen. Rand Paul prevented the Senate from voting to approve the bill by unanimous consent last week because of its cost. Fellow Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also placed a procedural hold on the legislation.
Under Senate rules, any one senator can propose that a bill be considered for unanimous consent, but one senator can also block it.
Comedian and 9/11 first responder advocate Jon Stewart blasted Paul for his action Thursday night. “Pardon me if I’m not impressed in any way by Rand Paul’s fiscal responsibility virtue signaling,” Stewart retorted.
Stewart, speaking to Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier” on Wednesday, called the move “absolutely outrageous.”He added, “Rand Paul presented tissue paper avoidance of the 1.5 trillion tax cut that added hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit and now he stands up at the last minute after 15 years of blood, sweat and tears from the 9/11 community so that it’s all over now, now we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community.”
Since the 9/11 terror attacks, over 200 firefighters and first responders have died as a result of cancers and other medical ailments related to the attacks.
“It is almost incomprehensible that after losing 343 members on September 11, we have now had 200 more FDNY members die due to World Trade Center illness. These heroes gave their lives bravely fighting to rescue and recover others. We will never forget them,” FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement to CBS News.
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