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Final Push in Washington to Stop Take-Back of 9/11 Aid

 
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DMCKEON
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 9:18 pm    Post subject: Final Push in Washington to Stop Take-Back of 9/11 Aid
From Thu Nov 10, 2005 3:00 am to Sun Nov 13, 2005 2:59 am (included)
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For Immediate Release
November 10, 2005 Contact: Israel Klein (Schumer)

202-224-7433

Clinton Press Office

202-224-2243

Afshin Mohamadi (Maloney)

202-225-7944

Craig Donner (Fossella)

718-356-5039

Down to the Wire:

Final Push in Washington to Stop Take-Back

of 9/11 Responder Assistance

NY congressional delegation, FDNY commissioner, 9/11 health professionals and responders lobby conferees to salvage $125 million

WASHINGTON, DC - As the effort to salvage the $125 million for injured 9/11 workers hit its most critical phase, Congressional conference negotiators received a full court press from New York to restore the money. New York's Senators and Members of Congress were joined by the New York Fire Commissioner, sick and injured 9/11 responders, and health professionals who have monitored the responders, to make the case for the money.

The $125 million in question had been appropriated as part of the emergency 9/11 recovery aid, but President Bush proposed to take it back in his FY2006 budget. The House of Representatives included the president's request in its version of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill.

New York Senators Clinton and Schumer were able to attach an amendment to the Senate version of the bill that would salvage the money. In the House, Reps. Fossella, Maloney and the NY delegation secured an agreement from leadership to work on this issue in conference negotiations between the House and the Senate. The fate of the money will be determined in the conference.

Senator Schumer said, "When the President asked us how much New York needed in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy - I said $20 billion. It was clear to us then that the Administration was serious about making that request a reality. I was shocked and puzzled to find out that after all our discussions that the Administration would authorize the removal of $125 million in funds that would go to workers who were injured at the World Trade Center site, including some of the chronic illnesses and health problems that may not be evident until many years after September 11, 2001. I'm relieved that we've gotten the money restored in the spending bill, but we are going to continue to be vigilant in making sure the money New York's 9/11 workers we were promised gets delivered."

Senator Clinton said, "The heroic men and women who selflessly risked their health and safety at Ground Zero and Fresh Kills to help New Yorkers in the horrific aftermath of 9/11 need and deserve our unending support. The Senate agreed that we owe it to them to make sure they have the critical resources they require. Now we must ensure that this money remains in the final Conference Report so that people and their families who are waiting for answers on claims and who need continued medical and mental health screening, monitoring and treatment, receive essential help to deal with the health effects of their brave acts."

Rep. Maloney said, "Now is a perfect time for Congress to show that it will 'never forget' 9/11, just like everyone promised four years ago. If the conference negotiators strip out the Clinton-Schumer amendment, they will be taking emergency money from 9/11 that may very well still be needed and shipping it off to some other part of the country for some other use. The New York delegation is working in unison to try to stop that from happening."

Rep. Fossella said, "In the best interest of the people of New York, I strongly urge the Conference Committee to restore this essential funding for our City and State. These funds will be used in the future for September 11th-related workers compensation claims and also to meet the health needs of those affected by the events of that day. It is impossible to project at this time the full financial cost of those needs, but it is self-evident that they will continue to be great.

"There are literally tens of thousands of residents and workers who were in the vicinity of Ground Zero and at the Fresh Kills Landfill during the attacks and in the weeks and months after. These individuals have required - and will continue to require - both physical and mental health treatment. The loss of the $125 million could place in jeopardy the ability to ensure New Yorkers have access to the care they need."

Suzy Ballantyne of the New York State AFL-CIO, who was in Washington today, said, "Today, the New York State AFL-CIO asks that the $125 million in funding, originally intended to help those still suffering from significant financial, medical and mental health needs, be restored to New York as emergency spending. Those who risked their lives on September 11th to rescue others didn't give a second thought to their own health and well-being. So now it is our turn to 'rescue them' from any and all harmful, long term financial, emotional or physical impairments."

Joining the elected officials today were:
Nicholas Scoppetta, New York Fire Commissioner; Peter Hayden, FDNY Chief of Department, ran operations in North Tower on 9/11; David Prezant, M.D., Deputy Chief Medical Officer, FDNY; Lorna Thorn, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, specialist in Epidemiology; Michele Lent, Deputy Inspector, NYPD, has used the services of Project COPE, Pam Delaney - President of the NYC Police Foundation, which administers Project COPE, Jacqueline Moline, M.D., Medical Director, WTC Worker & Volunteer Medical Screening Program; Peter Gorman, President, NYC Uniformed Fire Officers Association; Suzy Ballantyne, New York State AFL-CIO; Duncan Templeton, Legislative Vice President, Federal Law Enforcement Officers (FLEOA); John Bottone, FLEOA; Ellen Stevenson, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia Univ Med Center, oversees Project COPE; Tom Hart, Safety Officer, Operating Engineers, Local 94 and Chair, WTC Med Monitoring Advisory Board; and Marvin Bethea, 9/11 responder and co-founder of Heroes Helping Heroes.

Background

Three key reasons it would be wrong to take back 9/11 workers compensation aid include: First, there has never been a study of how much aid will be needed to pay current recipients of 9/11 workers compensation.

Second, there has been no analysis of what resources will be needed for future payments to hundreds of 9/11 claims that are still pending. Medical research shows that respiratory illness from 9/11 can be long-term and debilitating over time. If even a fraction of pending claims are approved in the months ahead, annual 9/11 workers compensation payments could reach multiple millions of dollars.

Third, any remaining funds from the $125 million not used for workers compensation should be used for the broader purpose of supporting the health and recovery of 9/11 responders. More than half of some 12,000 responders screened through a national medical monitoring program coordinated by the Mount Sinai Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine are estimated to still experience 9/11 related illnesses. After ensuring that all needs for 9/11 workers compensation claims will be met, remaining aid should be used to support medical treatment for 9/11 responders who do not have health insurance or adequate coverage for 9/11 injuries. Remaining funds could be used to extend the national World Trade Center medical monitoring program from five to twenty years, to track and adequately diagnose long-term illness from the disaster.



Previous Action

Last month, Senators Clinton and Schumer scored a victory in the Senate when they successfully attached an amendment to the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill that covers the $125 million. In June, the House passed a version of the bill that rescinds the 9/11 workers compensation aid. However, Congresswoman Maloney and Congressman Fossella obtained a verbal commitment on the House floor by leadership to work on the issue during conference negotiations (http://www.house.gov/maloney/press/109th/20050623Amendment911Aid.htm).

Attached is a letter from Senators Schumer and Clinton to the leadership of the Senate HELP Committee requesting that the $125 million be restored.

Earlier, Maloney organized 23 Members of the New York Congressional delegation, who urged President Bush to withdraw the proposal in his Fiscal Year 2006 budget that would rescind $125 million in federal funds designated for 9/11 workers compensation and job retraining aid. That letter is available at: (http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/20050531_rescission_ltr_POTUS.pdf).

In addition, Members of the New York delegation sent a letter to Representatives Jerry Lewis and David Obey, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee respectively, asking the Committee to reject the rescission and for a review of the unmet health needs of 9/11 responders. It is available at: (http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/20050531_rescission_ltr_Approps.pdf).

A letter from Governor George Pataki expressing concern about the effort to take back this 9/11 aid and support for Congressman James Walsh's amendment to reverse the rescission of the aid is available at: (http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/061505GovLtr.pdf).

Letters to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders from Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposing the rescission of this 9/11 aid are available at: (http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/060705MayorHouse.pdf) and (http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/060705MayorSenate.pdf).

<<11.2.05LetterToAppropsSen.HRC&CES.pdf>>

###

Afshin Mohamadi
Communications Director
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)
202-225-7944
c: 202-225-3703
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