Senate Finally Gives the Okay, 9/11 Survivor Fund Gets Millions

( – On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks killed 2,977 people, but the death toll didn’t end there. In the following years, many of the people who were there that fateful day and the days afterward have fallen ill. In many cases, they’ve died.

Lawmakers established the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) to help the survivors of attacks pay for medical treatments and other related expenses. Recently, the Senate expanded the legislation.

Expanded Fund

On July 27, New York’s senators, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D), announced the upper chamber passed a bipartisan amendment to Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act ( FY24 NDAA) to close a budget shortfall in the WTCHP. The amendment will provide $676 million for the program. It will also allow civilian and active duty military responders, as well as other federal employees involved in the Shanksville crash and Pentagon attack, to join the program. Congress established the WTCHP in 2011 and extended it for five years to provide monitoring and medical treatment for those who responded to and survived the attacks in New York City. Since then, the program has been extended until 2090.

Funding the Program

Lawmakers authorized an additional $1 billion in funding for the program in a spending bill at the end of 2022. However, the funds were not enough to cover the anticipated costs of providing services to more than 120,000 civilians and first responders who qualify. That’s where the new amendment comes in.

According to the senators, the amendment was modeled after the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act. The legislation was introduced in 2022 to address the budget shortfall and modify the WTCHP. That bill never passed, putting lawmakers in the position they are in now with the limited program and shortfall.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have dealt with issues related to 9/11 health programs. Comedian Jon Stewart traveled to the capitol with 9/11 first responders multiple times to negotiate funding for the separate 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. In 2019, the former host of “The Daily Show” gave an impassioned speech to a nearly empty chamber as he tried to convince lawmakers to fund that program. That fight was documented in the film “No Responders Left Behind.”

While the Senate has passed the amendment, it still has to pass the House of Representatives, and the president must sign it into law.

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