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Today, I remember the lives that we lost and the actions of 9/11 first responders and keep them in my heart. I want to remind all of us that today, 9/11, first responders battle dibilitating illnesses caused by working in the debris. These valiant guardians of our country responded to the attack immediately and now, we need to respond to theirs.
A world up in flames.
18 years ago, the world was a much different place. There was no TSA. No war. No President Trump. I was in the fourth grade and I remember sitting in class when all of a sudden, my teacher began receiving calls to bring students down to the principal’s office. Their parents had come to pick them up. I was eventually called down and picked up by my dad. When I arrived home, someone was tuning our piano and the TV was on. I will never forget the raw destruction that was displayed. The twin towers up in dark smoke and people scrambling away from the mess. In the midst of all that smoke, courageous fire fighters were desperately trying to put out the flames and police officers were doing everything they could to guide people to safety. Those were the first responders. Even though I was a kid, it was obvious that these guardians of New York were overloaded and they did not have the proper equipment to help them operate safely in that tumultuous environment.
The Congressional battle for funding our heroes
Now, 18 years later, those very same first responders are battling respiratory illnesses and unfortunately, Congress. Back on December 9th 2010, the US Senate hoped to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would establish a $2.7 billion dollar fund to help provide compensation and health care aid to first responders until 2015, the original expiration date for the act. However, the passing of the legislation would be delayed as the GOP filibustered the bill until Bush’s tax cuts were extended. Republicans even expressed concerns about where funding would even come from.
A quick look into US Defense spending should be able to yield some answers as to where money can come from. In 2018, the US spent $650 BILLION dollars on defense. Exceeding the combined spending of the next seven largest defense spenders.
I think this is where all Americans should be angry and disgusted. Congress literally held the first responder’s health care aid for hostage unless the wealthy 1% saw less accountability for taxes.
They did this to the detriment of the Democrats because the Republicans could make the passing of legislation even more difficult since they won House majority in the 2010 Congressional elections. Since the likelihood that the Zadroga Bill was going to pass was getting weaker, President Obama signed the extension of Bush’s tax cuts to get the Zadroga Act passed.
We need to help our heroes
In October 2015, Jon Stewart and first responders went to Congress to fight for the re-authorization of the compensation fund, adding an additional $4.2 billion dollars (totaling a maximum payout of $7.4 billion dollars), and successfully extended claims coverage until 2020. Since then, the rate of illness claims has been increasing. Then earlier this year, the special master of the 9/11 fund announced that the total payout for the fund could reach $11.6 billion dollars. That is why back in June, an emotional Jon Stewart went to Congress and delivered a powerful speech while seeking additional funding for the fund.
Healthcare coverage for life
Shortly after this speech, President Trump signed permanent authorization for the 9/11 fund. This marks a win for all first responders. So, if you happen to know any first responders or anyone that was in the affected area within a nine month window, then let them know that their health care is covered for life. Please inform people about this because it seems like the US government is not communicating this to those that may need it.