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Vice Chair Crowley Op-Ed in Queens Courier on Need to Renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act
On September 11, 2001, firefighters, police officers and rescue crews rushed to Ground Zero from across the city. Many were from Queens. Too many never returned. And those who did return, often returned with what would become serious, chronic health conditions caused by their work at Ground Zero.
In those days after the attacks, we came together not just as a city, but as a country. We recognized the bravery and sacrifice of those we lost, and those who continued to work on rescue, recovery, and eventually cleanup efforts.
My colleagues in Congress from all over the country promised that we would stand with those first responders, cleanup workers, and volunteers. They promised that we would take care of those who took care of us.
They promised we would never forget.
We now need to turn those words into actions.
Almost a decade after the September 11th attacks, Congress enacted the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to provide our first responders with the health care they need – and deserve.
That program has helped so many people, who have benefited from the specialized, personalized care it provides. It has given them peace of mind for themselves and their families as they navigate difficult diagnoses and treatments.
But tragically, Republicans in Congress let this program expire on September 30. While it can continue to serve people for the immediate months to come, if Congress doesn’t act soon, our brave first responders and other local residents will be turned away in their time of need.
This is beyond unacceptable – this is offensive.
It is offensive for any member of Congress to say “never forget” one day, and refuse to extend this program the next. It is offensive for them to show our 9/11 first responders that they’re not a priority. It is offensive to let petty politics get in the way of extending such a vital and meaningful program.
We can – and must – do better.
Over 200 members of Congress, from all over the country, have added their names to a measure that would permanently renew and extend the Zadroga Act programs. We need the Speaker of the House to bring this measure up for a vote.
Yes, we should never forget. We should never forget the heroes of September 11th. We should never forget how much they have given to us – to our country. I know I will never forget – all of Queens will never forget.
We must also never forget the importance of doing the right thing, and our responsibility to care for those in need.
Now, it’s time for Congress to show that they have not forgotten.