Supporters push McConnell for vote on 9/11 victims fund before August recess
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Supporters of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund are pushing for the U.S. Senate to vote on an extension before the August recess.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is among the most recent co-sponsors of the extension. The bill would cover 9-11 victims and first responders for virtually the rest of their lives.
“We have Pennsylvanians, especially in the eastern part of the state, who actually did go to New York City and responded to the collapse of the trade towers,” Toomey said.
Toomey is now one of 74 senators – nearly 3-out-of-4 – who have signed onto the permanent extension.
Supporters are pushing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to hold a vote before congress is scheduled to break at the end of the month. But it’s unclear if that will happen, despite McConnell’s pledge to pass it by the Aug. 2 deadline. If that deadline is missed, Democrats fear it could become a political football in the fall.
“Do not say that we’re going to use this bill to help pass a debt ceiling or a budget or something else,” said Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “That always leads to things getting messed up.”
Dozens of victims have made their way to Washington in recent years, alongside comedian and activist Jon Stewart. In February, we heard from LeRoy McGinnis. A first-responder himself, McGinnis has watched bills pile up for his friends and former New York City firefighters.
“Spouses who have had to quit their jobs who are doing 24/7 homecare for their ill loved ones, this money comes in handy,” McGinnis said of the benefits during a February interview.
Time is of the essence to pass an extension. Although the $7 billion fund doesn’t expire until 2020, it’s expected to run out of money before then.
“The Senate was always going to do this,” Toomey said of passing the permanent extension. “Mitch McConnell is under a lot of conflicting pressures at any point in time about what goes on the Senate floor and when.”