White House Signs 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Bill

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick stands with FDNY firefighter Terence Pfeifer (son of Ray Pfiefer) and another member of the FDNY on the White House lawn after the bill signing. Credit: Office of Congressman Fitzpatrick.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick attended a ceremony at the White House Monday morning with President Trump to celebrate the signing of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund bill.

“I’m proud to join our 9/11 First Responder Heroes today as President Trump signs a law to ensure that those who engaged in acts of heroism and saved lives on September 11th will receive the benefits they are owed,” said Fitzpatrick.

H.R. 1327, now law, permanently funds financial support for the brave men and women injured while responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The bill, also known as the Never Forget Heroes Act, made national headlines in mid-June when former Daily Show host Jon Stewart testified before Congress. He slammed representatives for not attending a hearing with the House Judiciary Subcommittee.

“As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,” Stewa said. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress.”

While broken bones have mended, the Sept. 11th attacks caused far more insidious medical issues. Cancer and other illnesses in first responders are attributed to the toxins present at Ground Zero. Retired FDNY firefigher Richard Driscoll passed away on Jul. 17, 2019, marking the 200th firefighter to pass away from a 9/11 related illness.

President Trump recognized James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez before signing the legislation. All three men were first responders on the day of the attacks. Zadroga and Pfeifer passed away from 9/11-related illnesses in 2006 and 2017 respectively. Alvarez is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

“It was a moral imperative to get this legislation across the finish line, and I hope the President’s signature today can provide hope and peace of mind to 9/11 first responders and their families,” Fitzpatrick said. “I applaud the courage of advocates who put the pressure on Congress to get this done, including my colleague Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Jon Stewart, for helping us make this bill the law of the land.”