IAVA and 9/11 First Responders are celebrating the inclusion of key elements of the Zadroga Act in the FY2016 omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government. The text of the bill was made public early this morning.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has confirmed the House will vote Friday on the measure and the Senate aims to take the bill up the same day. Senate Republican leadership is hoping that no senator will try to slow down consideration of the package, but it is thought that even under a worse-case scenario, a vote could still come early Sunday morning, sending the measure to the President.
The key Zadroga provisions include an effectively-permanent, 75-year renewal of the World Trade Center Health Program and a five-year renewal of theSeptember 11th Victim Compensation Fund. No longer will First Responders have to travel back to lobby Congress to extend the critical program for their injuries sustained on that horrible day.
IAVA Member Dan Moynihan, who this year alone has made 16 trips from New York to Capitol Hill with fellow 9/11 First Responders, was appreciative for everyone’s efforts. “I want to thank our sponsors and those that have supported us along the way, including IAVA, comedian Jon Stewart, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), bill cosponsors, and all those that have urged Congressional support for moving the bill forward.”
Separately, Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) became the 69th Senate cosponsor of the Zadroga Act, further increasing pressure on Congress to act. There are 272 House cosponsors.
The omnibus legislation also includes $162.7 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the House Appropriations Committee said “will help provide our nation’s veterans with the services and care they have earned from their dedicated service to the country.” Discretionary funding for VA programs in the agreement is $71.4 billion – $6.4 billion above the current 2015 level.
How you can help: IAVA has set up a “Take Action” web page, to be updated daily, for our veterans and supporters to ask their Members of Congress to support the bill. The page, iava.org/zadroga, lists all current cosponsors of the measure. If your representatives in DC aren’t yet on the bill, click here to email your members of Congress.