Senate clears permanent extension of 9/11 victims compensation fund
WASHINGTON, D.C. - John Feal responded to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 not knowing he and so many other New York City firefighters would walk away with more than a memory of that fateful day.
Now, Feal and his fellow first responders are one step closer to getting the federal aid they need to continue seeking medical treatment.
“We’re leaving DC on our terms and we’re going out with dignity and class,” Feal said during the news conference.
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 97-2 to extend the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) through 2090. The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed the bill earlier this month.
“Righteousness sometimes – sometimes – in this mangled town sometimes prevails, and today thank God it did.”
The clock was quickly ticking to extend the $7 billion fund that covers everything from medical expenses to travel costs. It was scheduled to run through 2020. But it was going to run out of money before then.
“We can never repay all that the 9/11 community has done for our country, but we can stop penalizing them,” Stewart said. “Today is that day.”
Despite the overwhelming majority of the senate approving the extension, the funding didn’t come without a traditional Washington political battle. A years-long fight capped with a stalemate between two Republican senators – Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Utah’s Mike Lee – and New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand over the funding itself and the length of the extension. It now ends with the rescuers getting rescued themselves.
“I’m going to ask my team now to put down your swords and pick up your rakes and go home,” Feal said. “Hopefully we don’t have to come back.”
The bill will now head across town to the White House where President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law.