Donovan Announces Permanent WTC Health Program Included in Must-Pass Spending Package
Washington, DC—December 15, 2015....Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) today announced that the year-end spending bill, known as the “omnibus,” includes a permanent extension of the Zadroga Act. The bill language, which became public moments ago, provides $3.5 billion for the World Trade Center Health Program, the level which WTC Health Program Administrator Dr. John Howard said he needed to permanently fund treatments and screenings for first responders. The bill also provides $4.6 billion for the Victims Compensation Fund.
Congressman Donovan said, “This victory is about the heroes who sacrificed their health and their lives in one of our country’s darkest hours. They didn’t know it then, but by rushing toward the horror to save lives, many would risk their own years later. This is right, this is good, and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of it.”
Today’s official inclusion comes after months of hard-fought and emotional negotiations. In New York, Donovan and his colleagues hosted countless events with 9/11 heroes, widows, and families to put a face to their argument. In Washington, Donovan, Congressman Peter King, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and Congressman Jerry Nadler made their case to House Republican leadership over many weeks.
Donovan continued, “I always said that on the merits – on the facts of this case – we will win. I had full confidence that Speaker Ryan, Chairman Upton, and Chairman Goodlatte would come through for true American heroes, and they did.”
The omnibus will likely come before the House of Representatives for a final vote on December 17. With agreement from Republican and Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate, and the potential for a government shutdown if nothing passes, the bill’s prospects for success are extremely high. After the House and Senate pass the measure, it will go to the President’s desk for his signature.
Donovan concluded, “Rob Serra; Diane DiGiacomo; Sal Turturici; John Muller; George Taylor: these are some of the people who woke up one September morning and found themselves surrounded by death and destruction. With the world falling apart around them, they risked their lives to save others. September 11 was Rob’s first day on the job, and he now suffers from numerous chronic conditions. Diane spent weeks saving abandoned animals from lower Manhattan apartment buildings, and succumbed to cancer just last month. Sal transported remains from Ground Zero for six months, and is now battling stage four cancer. John spent eight months sifting through rubble, and is now fighting lung cancer. George was there to pick up the pieces, and lost the function of his vocal cords due to cancer. They responded with courage and selflessness, and we can never fully repay their sacrifice. I’m honored to have a part in answering their call.”