NEW YORK – It's a victory for the thousands of the first responders who spent months working at Ground Zero following the terrorist attacks on September 11th.
Congress announced the victims are set to receive lifetime medical care for the illnesses.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act is included in the must-pass $1.1 trillion spending package – also referred to as the omnibus – making what is essentially a permanent extension to the health care program for our first responders.
Congressional leaders and the White House reached an agreement on the package late Tuesday night.
Remember Congress has been slow to act, even with the overwhelming bipartisan support for the legislation. This drew anger from comedian Jon Stewart, who visited Capitol Hill twice this fall to bring attention to the cause even starting the #WorstResponders started trending on Twitter.
Here's what it would do:
While the health care portion of the Zadroga Act is extended through 2090, the other component, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is only extended for an additional five years and adds $4.6 billion to pay claims.
The legislation provides that all injured responders and survivors that have already received an award determined will not see cuts to their awards and will get them a year earlier than expected.
There are also some changes to the process for those responders who have not yet received an award. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the deal Thursday.