Thursday, December 17, 2015

Forced Fulfillment of its Moral Obligation

"Our 9/11 first responders never should 
have been forced to travel to Washington
and walk the halls of Congress - 
legislation this important shouldn't have needed
so much convincing - but after dozens of trips, 
they finally got the job done and
convinced Congress to fulfill its moral obligation 
to our 9/11 heroes. I'm proud to represent them, 
and I'm grateful for their efforts."
- Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator (D-NY)
Lead Sponsor,  Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act

Senator Gillibrand is correct.  Her colleagues in Congress never should have demonstrated the guileless audacity they did in requiring the men and the women who stood in harm's way on September 11, 2001 and in the weeks and months that followed (while being lied to about the allegedly safe environment in which they were working) to beg for their lives.  But they did.  

Senator Gillibrand is correct.  While it never should have come to it (them having to convince Congress to fulfill its moral obligation to them), in the end these heroes did what heroes tend to do.  They won the day.  Among those who won the day was one who never should have been called upon to take up this fight - Jack McNamara.  Jack is the nine-year-old son of FDNY firefighter John McNamara, who died in 2009 as a result of 9/11-related cancer.  Nine-year-old boys should spend their Sundays tossing around a football with their friends.  They should not be required to spend a single Sunday holding up a sign begging Congress for help - "Don't let other dads die!!!" and reiterating the sad truth of his life - "I miss my Dad FDNY FF John F. McNamara".  Yet, due to this Congress's unwillingness to fulfill its moral obligation to our 9/11 heroes, nine-year-old Jack McNamara did.    

Conspicuous by its absence from Senator Gillibrand's statement is any mention of her role in achieving this victory.  It was substantial.  Ten years ago, Kirsten Gillibrand was not even a member of Congress.  She first won election to the House of Representatives in 2006.  She has only been a member of the United States Senate since January, 2009.  She was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton when the latter joined President Obama's Administration as Secretary of State. Presently, she is serving her first full term in the Senate, having garnered a bit more than 72% of the vote in 2012.  Whatever she may lack in experience, she more than makes up for in terms of smarts and toughness.  

Judging from her decision to omit herself from the list of persons responsible for securing passage of the Zadroga Act, I think humility has a place high up on her "strong suit" list as well.    

Humble, smart, and tough.  Three core characteristics of leadership.  All of which contributed significantly to my receipt of this e-mail in the wee small hours of yesterday morning...

For Immediate Release: December 15, 2015

Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act
 StatementOn the Inclusion of the Reauthorization of the 
World Trade Center Health Program and the Extension 
of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in the Omnibus.
World Trade Center Health Program to continue to provide 
medical monitoring and treatment for injured and ill 
9/11 responders and survivors; 
 September 11th Victim Compensation Fund extended for 
five more years with increased funding.

Washington—Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act
 released the following statement on the inclusion of the agreed 
to James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Re-authorization
 in the 2015 Omnibus spending bill:

“Including the re-authorization in the ‘must pass’ legislation ensures
that the World Trade Center Health Program will continue to operate
 and provide services for injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors
 for the rest of their lives, and extends the September 11th Victim
 Compensation Fund for five more years with additional funding.

“This is a very important step of a long journey for those first responders,
residents and workers who were exposed to the toxins at Ground 
Zero in the aftermath of the worst attack on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor.
Just as Congress aided those who rescued service members and recovered
our Pacific Fleet over 70 years ago, that same honor and duty has
resulted in renewing much-needed aid for 9/11 responders and survivors. 
It's a message to the world that America will always help our heroes.

“Firefighters, police, construction workers, NYC workers, and other 
9/11 first responders put their lives at risk to respond to the attacks, 
and in the years afterward put forth an extraordinary effort once again.
Often sick and in wheel chairs they made countless trips along with 
survivors to Washington DC. They attended hundreds of lobbying 
appointments and scores of press conferences and rallies to make 
sure that their representatives understood the importance of this critical 
legislation. What’s more, they have done this twice—first, five years 
ago for the original passage of the Zadroga Act, and once again this year.
Because of their efforts—and their service and sacrifice—they will finally 
have peace of mind that the medical treatment and other assistance that they 
need and deserve will continue to be available.

“The responders and survivors didn’t do it alone, of course. Legislators on 
both sides of the aisle responded and, by standing together, passed this 
legislation:  Zadroga’s original sponsors in the House, New York 
Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Peter King; and the 
original sponsors in the Senate, New York’s Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and 
Charles Schumer and their staff, as well as the entire bipartisan New York, 
New Jersey and Connecticut Congressional Delegations.

“Today’s success would also not have happened without the support of Senators 
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Tom Cotton of Arkansas 
as well as all of the 69 Senators and 272 Representatives co-sponsors of 
this legislation.

We also thank Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker 
Paul Ryan for their efforts to ensure that this legislation was included in 
the 2015 Omnibus Spending bill.”

House Sponsors of HR 1786

Senate Sponsors of S. 928

# # #
Benjamin Chevat
Executive Director
Citizens for Extension of the James Zadroga Act, Inc.
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If you were forwarded this email,
you can become a member of Citizens for the Extension of the James 
Zadroga Act, here.



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