9/11 bill expires

In the US, we are all familiar with the events of September 11, 2001. What seems to escape the memories of some was the aftermath. Dubbed the largest emergency response in US history, 9 months were spent by firefighters, police, EMTs, Coast Guard, and volunteers cleaning up the wreckage. In the process each worker risked the debilitating health effects of the toxic dust excreted from the fallen towers. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was put in to place to make any person, or relative of deceased individuals, eligible for compensation for medical treatment and monitoring services. That program is now under threat of being discontinued, as it has not been renewed since it began expiring in September. The Zadroga Act was passed on a temporary basis to ensure that it was possible to prevent fraudulent claims and that responders could prove the link between there service and their sickness. Recent lobbying efforts from Jon Stewart, coupled with twitter attacks by Hillary Clinton, have brought what Stewart has called an “embarrassment” to public light. Frankly, it is hard to disagree with Stewart on this matter. During his surprise appearance on The Daily Show, Stewart contending that there has been no fraud and that the link between service and sickness has been proven. With those two tenets being the major impediments to renewal, it is hard to understand why the bill has not been approved. The attacks of 9/11 have been one of the most impactful events in US history, forever scarring a generation of Americans. Roughly 97% of Americans remember exactly where they were at the time of the attacks, according to a 2011 study conducted by Pew Research Center. The only other events that come close are the JFK assassination (95%), Osama killing (81%), and the first man on the moon (80%). So, how has Congress forgotten to renew this bill? It is a small price to pay for those who risked their lives during such a traumatic time. But, according to the New York Daily News, the bill only has the support of over 145 House sponsors, and senators from 41 states backing it, but no commitment from the GOP leaders. After a twitter attack from Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to get the bill passed, yet details are still being negotiated. What should really be disturbing is that it took a rant on Comedy Central and a twitter attack from Hillary Clinton to force the mere acknowledgment of the bill’s existence. Currently, this bill helps about 33,000 responders receive treatment and an additional 70,000 receive monitoring services, per The Huffington Post. This is not a proposition for socialized healthcare, it is an extremely specific program that is limited in scope, and helps a small sample of people. As Congress continues to argue over the details of spending bill that will avoid government shutdown next week, we should all expect to see an extension of the Zadroga Act. Sure, the US doesn’t exactly have a lot of wiggle room in its budget. With the largest budget deficit of any country in the world, there should be debate over where funds should go. Nonetheless, the attachment of this measure should easily receive bi-partisan support. If it does not, we should indeed be embarrassed.