The Never Forget the Heroes Act passed the Senate floor Tuesday with a 97 to two vote to permanently extend the Victim’s Compensation Fund, which will provide compensation and healthcare to citizens, volunteers and 9/11 first responders who were near Ground Zero or helped with the rescue efforts after the Twin Towers were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
One of the lead co-sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives was U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria).
“The Senate joined with 402 Members of the House in telling the 9/11 community that we meant it when we vowed to Never Forget,” said Maloney. “The true Twin Towers of New York are the FDNY and the NYPD, and fully funding and permanently authorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is the least we can do to honor their sacrifices.”
The House of Representatives voted in support of the bill 402 to 12 on July 12.
The work is not done on the bill as of yet, according to Maloney. President Donald Trump has to sign the bill for it to officially become law.
“I will not rest until the September 11th Victim Compensation Program is made permanent and we finally turn our promise to Never Forget into law,” said Maloney. “I hope the President signs this legislation quickly, so we can finally give these heroes the peace of mind they deserve.”
Aiding the bill within the City Council was Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) with Resolution 897.
The resolution demanded the passage of the act, according to Miller.
“Our movement to preserve the dignity of 9/11 responders, workers, and survivors recently lost another of its champions in retired NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez, as well as several of his fellow first responders, including the 199th and 200th members of the FDNY; all of whom died from a 9/11 related illness,” said Miller, Civil Service and Labor Committee Chair.
Luis Alvarez, an NYPD detective and 9/11 activist, was laid to rest in Astoria earlier this month after dying from 9/11-related cancer. He spent three months in search and rescue at Ground Zero.
“With today’s vote, we honor their sacrifice and call national attention to the plight of the nearly 50,000 responders and survivors across the country that have been diagnosed with a 9/11 health condition,” said Miller on July 23.
At Ground Zero, many first responders, volunteers and people in the area were exposed to toxins and told by the federal government after the terrorist attacks that the air was safe to breathe.
Since Alvarez’s passing, 18 people have died of 9/11-related diseases, according to 9/11 activist John Feal.
“To my team who walked, limped, crawled the Halls of Congress since October with illnesses, it has been an honor!” posted Feal on Facebook. “I will keep my promise and make sure America knows who you are and what you sacrificed! I implore you all tomorrow to remember what you did, what it took and let it soak in.”
Without the extension, the Victims Compensation Fund would have expired in 2020, according to Maloney.
The act will compensate victims through 2092, according to Miller.
“The Never Forget the Heroes Act is desperately needed to ensure those who were promised they would be taken care of will have the peace of mind they need and deserve,” said Miller.