‘To Make the Wounded Whole…’
Chin Pushes to Renew Victim Compensation Fund
City Council member Margaret Chin is mobilizing local support for an effort at the federal level to restore funding and make permanent the Victim Compensation Fund, which offers financial awards to responders and survivors of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
At a Wednesday rally, Ms. Chin was joined by U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to call for passage of the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.
This proposed federal measure would renew and make permanent the Victim Compensation Fund that was created by a 2011 law, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was renewed in 2015. At the same time, the law would establish a new reserve from which to pay future financial claims by responders and survivors. The current incarnation of the Victim Compensation Fund has already disbursed most of of $7.3 billion allocation, and in February cut pending awards by up to 70 percent, in order to preserve its dwindling funds. This leaves an estimated 90,000 survivors and responders possibly without recourse, once the current fund stops accepting new claims in 2020, and shuts down the following year.
Ms. Chin recently introduced in the City Council a new measure, Resolution 897, which calls on Congress to ratify the Never Forget the Heroes act. “The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund represents a promise our country made to the survivors and first responders of the September 11th terrorist attacks,” she said at the Wednesday rally. “With more individuals coming forward with related illnesses, we cannot turn our backs on these survivors. With the funding for this critical program set to expire next year, it is incumbent upon elected representatives to ensure our country delivers on this promise.”
“The Victim Compensation Fund has seen a major increase in claims for serious 9/11-related illnesses and cancers from Downtown residents and workers, as well as from responders — so much so that the funding has been exhausted,” added Kimberly Flynn, chair of the Survivors Steering Committee of the World Trade Center Health Program. “The recent drastic cuts to awards have compounded the tragedy for those who are suffering, stressed and struggling to manage. And it is clear that the wave of illness caused by Words Trade Center toxic exposures will not crest anytime soon.”
The Never Forget the Heroes Act appears likely to pass the House of Representatives, where it is being shepherded by Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents Lower Manhattan. Its prospects are far less certain in the Republican-controlled Senate, however, and there are no preliminary indications as to whether President Donald Trump would sign the measure, even if its does pass in both houses of Congress.
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