AP

House Approves 9/11 Victims Bill, Sends It To Senate

Jul 12, 2019, 2:23 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:04 pm
Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart, speaks at a news conference on behalf of 9/11 victims and fam...
Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart, speaks at a news conference on behalf of 9/11 victims and families, Friday, July 12, 2019, at the Capitol in Washington. The House is expected to approve a bill Friday ensuring that a victims' compensation fund for the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money. (AP Photo/Matthew Daly)
(AP Photo/Matthew Daly)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a bill ensuring that a victims compensation fund for the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money.

The 402-12 vote sends the bill to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to call a vote before Congress goes on its August recess.

Lawmakers from both parties hailed the House vote, which comes a month after comedian Jon Stewart sharply criticized Congress for failing to act. Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders, told lawmakers at an emotional hearing that they were showing “disrespect” to first responders now suffering from respiratory ailments and other illnesses as a result of their recovery work at the former World Trade Center site in New York City.

Stewart called the sparse attendance at the June 11 hearing “an embarrassment to the country and a stain on this institution.” He later targeted McConnell for slow-walking previous version of the legislation and using it as a political pawn to get other things done.

Stewart said Friday that replenishing the victims fund was “necessary, urgent and morally right.”

Replenishing the fund will not fix the health problems of emergency workers and their families, but it would remove “a 15-year, unnecessary burden placed by their own government upon them,” Stewart said at a Capitol news conference.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers credited Stewart for raising the profile of the issue, which has lingered on Capitol Hill for years.

“You made it too hot to handle” in the Senate, Pelosi, D-Calif., told Stewart, praising him for shining his “celebrity spotlight” on the issue.

Eleven Republicans and independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan opposed the bill. No Democrat voted against the measure.

The bill would extend a victims compensation fund created after the 2001 terrorist attacks through 2092, essentially making it permanent. The $7.4 billion fund is rapidly being depleted, and administrators recently cut benefit payments by up to 70%.

The Congressional Budget Office said in a report this week that the bill would result in about $10.2 billion in additional compensation payments over 10 years, including more than $4 billion for claims already filed. The bill would require that victims whose compensation payments were reduced because of the fund’s declining balance be made whole.

“This was not a hurricane or a flood or a tornado. This was the largest terrorist attack ever on American soil,” Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., said in a floor speech before the House vote. “As Jon Stewart testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee, these terrorists weren’t saying ‘Death to Tribeca’. This was an attack on all of us as Americans and we all should be voting yes today as Americans.”

Zeldin and other lawmakers noted that one of the bill’s most prominent advocates, former New York City police detective Luis Alvarez, did not live to see its passage. Alvarez, who testified with Stewart at last month’s House hearing, died June 29 at age 53.

Alvarez, who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016, traced his illness to the three months he spent in the rubble of the World Trade Center’s twin towers after the attacks.

Alvarez “shouldn’t have had to come down here to fight on behalf of all of these other victims and first responders in the first place,” Zeldin said. “Month after month, year after year … how many first responders have made dozens of trips (to the Capitol) educating, advocating, passionately asking members of Congress for their support?”

The bill was renamed to honor Alvarez and other first responders.

McConnell said in a statement after the House vote that the Senate will take up the legislation soon.

“The first responders who rushed into danger on September 11th, 2001, are the very definition of American heroes and patriots,” he said. “The Senate has never forgotten the victim compensation fund and we aren’t about to start now.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

R&B singer R. Kelly (L) arrives at the Cook County courthouse where jury selection is scheduled to ...
Associated Press

In reversal, prosecutors say R. Kelly off suicide watch

Prosecutors say R. Kelly is no longer on suicide watch following the jailed R&B singer's sentencing in a federal sex abuse case.
19 hours ago
CAPSTONE revealed in lunar Sunrise...
The Associated Press

NASA: Contact lost with spacecraft on way to test moon orbit

NASA said Tuesday it has lost contact with a $32.7 million spacecraft headed to the moon to test out a lopsided lunar orbit, but agency engineers are hopeful they can fix the problem.
19 hours ago
In this handout provided by Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, former Minneapolis police officer Derek...
STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press

Chauvin faces sentencing on federal charges in Floyd killing

A federal judge will this week sentence former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for federal civil rights violations in the killing of George Floyd.
19 hours ago
U.S. President Joe Biden awards the Medal of Honor to Army Specialist 5 Dwight W. Birdwell during a...
DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press

Biden awards Medal of Honor to 4 for Vietnam War heroism

President Joe Biden has bestowed the nation’s highest military honor to four Army soldiers for heroism that he says went above and beyond the call of duty during the Vietnam War.
19 hours ago
Protesters from "Just Stop Oil" climate protest group glue their hands to the frame of a copy of Le...
Associated Press

UK climate protesters glue themselves to gallery paintings

Climate change protesters targeted a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's “The Last Supper” at London's Royal Academy of Arts Tuesday, gluing themselves to the painting's frame and spray-painting “No New Oil” next to it.
19 hours ago
FBI agents work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 5, 2022 in Highland Park...
MICHAEL TARM, KATHLEEN FOODY and ROGER SCHNEIDER, Associated Press

Police: Gunman fired more than 70 rounds at July 4 parade

Police say the gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 rounds with an AR-15-style gun that killed at least six people.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
House Approves 9/11 Victims Bill, Sends It To Senate