Better Late Than Never – Congress Finally Votes to Extend Zadroga Act
While it took painfully long to do so, the House and Senate finally came to their senses and voted to extend the Zadroga Act on December 18. As a result, first responders who became ill due to their work at Ground Zero on 9/11 will receive health benefits for the next 75 years.
What Was the Holdup?
The full name of the legislation is the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. It is named after a New York City detective who died due to respiratory disease in 2006. He did not smoke and had no history of respiratory issues, but he fell ill after spending an estimated 450 hours helping with recovery efforts after the terrorist attacks. An autopsy was performed after he passed away that found particles of talc, methacrylate plastic, calcium phosphate and cellulose in his lungs.
However, extension of the Act was endangered due to political maneuvering. Many pointed the finger at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), saying he was blocking the extension by pulling it out of a transportation bill. The reason, many believe, was because he did not receive concessions regarding the loosening of regulations on oil exports.
Eventually, however, rational minds prevailed and the extension passed. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney led the effort to extend the Act, but they had a great deal of help; namely, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and the New York Daily News.
According to this article, more than 30,000 first responders and attack survivors are dealing with a wide range of attack-related ailments. Tragically, 9/11-related illnesses have killed more than 200 firefighters and police officers who worked at Ground Zero.
So while political wrangling led to a great deal of unnecessary stress and worry, we can at least applaud the fact that the House and Senate finally stepped up to do what is right.