Donovan, House Pass Permanent World Trade Center Health Program
Washington, DC—December 18, 2015....Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) today joined a majority in the House of Representatives to vote for a permanent reauthorization of the World Trade Center Health Program. The measure, which also includes a five-year, $4.6 billion extension of the Victim Compensation Fund, was part of a larger year-end spending package. It overwhelmingly passed the House with more than 300 bipartisan votes.
Congressman Donovan said, “We achieved everything we set out to accomplish. It’s a total and complete win for the heroes who risked their lives to save others after the worst terrorist attack in our history.”
Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19) said, “I was proud to join with my New York colleagues to ensure we included the Zadroga Act in the year-end funding bill, and am grateful for our victory in that effort. We owe our first responders a debt we can never fully repay, but this legislation ensures that they have the health care they have earned. I will never tire in my fight to ensure we treat all of our heroes with the respect and honor they deserve, and I say thank you to them and their families for their efforts on 9/11 and every day,” said Congressman Chris Gibson.
When negotiations opened, the House Energy and Commerce Committee – which has jurisdiction over the WTC Health Program – proposed only a five-year extension. Donovan, together with his northeastern colleagues, argued that 9/11 heroes deserve certainty and confidence that treatment for their diseases will be available for the rest of their lives. Earlier this month, discussions reached a breakthrough when the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee agreed to a permanent extension. Speaker Ryan and other House leaders committed to reauthorizing the Zadroga Act before year’s end.
Congressman Donovan continued, “Speaker Ryan, Chairman Upton, and Chairman Goodlatte gave their word that they would come through for 9/11 heroes, and they did. I thank them for their leadership and their commitment, as well as Congressman Peter King, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.”
The legislation provides $3.5 billion to the WTC Health Program, the amount WTC Health Program Administrator Dr. John Howard said he needed to permanently fund screenings and treatments. It also provides $4.6 billion to the Victim Compensation Fund and allows another five years for victims and their families to file claims. The House Judiciary Committee originally proposed only $2.775 billion.
Today’s House vote 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.
Congressman Donovan concluded, “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.”