Today, the IAVA legislative team joined 9/11 First Responders on Capitol Hill to try and meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office, whose support they see as critical to passing the Zadroga extension bill. Unsuccessful in getting a meeting, about 25 of us gathered outside his Senate office and spoke to media.
AVA member Dan Moynihan was a volunteer firefighter and First Responder at the World Trade Center that day. Even though he was hospitalized, he returned to work on the pile for the next four weeks. He suffers from numerous health problems related to his selfless efforts, and has survived removal of a brain tumor.
“The 9/11 First Responders need a permanent health bill to fit our specialized needs. Congress needs to do the Country’s business and pass this bill,” he said.
Following his interviews, we registered IAVA’s support for the group with the McConnell and ask that they receive a meeting.
Next, Moynihan accompanied the IAVA team to a meeting with the office of Post-9/11 Caucus member, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Staff was sympathetic to the need for an extension and will be discussing it with her boss.
Significantly, the chairman of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (R-MI), issued a release today calling for a permanent reauthorization of the health program, and offered entitlement reforms totaling more than $4 billion to pay for it.
Since the last update, Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) became a cosponsor of the House bill. With Noem, Senate now has 66, including one since our Nov. 17 Capitol press conference; the House now has 259 and 12 since the presser.
The focus now turns to sponsors’ efforts to add the measure to the FY2016 omnibus spending bill and increasing pressure on Congress to act. This includes a Dec. 3 press conference at the Capitol, which our Team will participate in, including IAVA Chief Policy Officer Matt Miller in a speaking role. IAVA has requested local IAVA members and we have emailed all Hill offices seeking their support and attendance.
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.