Lawmakers Push 9/11 Responder Aid Bill

New York and New Jersey lawmakers, joined by Sen. Edward Kennedy, re-submitted a bill that would provide $1.9 billion in medical and mental health monitoring for emergency response workers whose health was directly impacted by the 9/11 aftermath.

The 9/11 Heroes Health Improvement Act of 2007 – re-introduced by Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; and Kennedy, D-Mass. – is one of the first bills to be presented to the new Congress.

The money would be paid out from 2008 to 2012 to firefighters, police officers, EMTs and others who were at Ground Zero and Fresh Kills, on Staten Island, in addition to those who responded to the Pentagon attack.

Clinton: "If the President Will Not Act, Then We Will"

Late last year, Clinton, Schumer and Kennedy called on President Bush to include 9/11 responder funds in his upcoming fiscal year 2008 budget, due to be released in February. In the event that the funding is not included, the five senators have said they will push hard for their own legislation to be enacted.

" … Over the past 5 years, I have repeatedly and urgently called for the necessary funding to help 9/11 victims get the medical assistance they need," Schumer said. "Today, as the attacks continue to claim new victims, I hope the president understands that we can't afford to wait any longer."

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, of which Clinton is a member and Kennedy is chairman, has jurisdiction over the re-introduced bill and also has committed to hearings on 9/11 health effects in the near future, Clinton said.

"Time is passing while brave, selfless people are getting sick and dying," Clinton said. "…If the president will not act, then we will."

Studies: Many WTC Responders Showing Health Effects

A 5-year study conducted by Mount Sinai Medical Center of Ground Zero first responders found that almost 70 percent of World Trade Center (WTC) responders had new or substantially worsened respiratory symptoms following their work at the WTC site. Among the responders who did not show symptoms of ill health before 9/11, 61 percent developed respiratory symptoms while working at the WTC site, according to the study.

Studies published by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) show that more than 90 percent of FDNY rescue workers had new respiratory symptoms following their work at WTC and that more than 30 percent continue to have respiratory and/or mental health symptoms.

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