Senate passed a bill on Tuesday, July 23 to approve extended funding of September 11,2001 Victim Compensation Fund.
The passing of the bill ensures that 9/11 terror attack victims will never run out of money, and the first responders won’t need to plead for more money from the government.
The vote passes just a few days after intense lobbying from ailing 9/11 first responders.
One of the victims, Luis Alvarez, died of 9/11-related illness after pleading with the House lawmakers to pass the measure, alongside former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart.
On July 23, 2019, the bill was passed by a vote of 97-2 and will authorize funding of the victims through 2092.
A 9/11 victims’ advocate, John Feal, told his fellow first responders at a news conference:
“I’m going to ask my team now to put down your swords and pick up your rakes and go home, and hopefully, we don’t have to come back.”
“What I’m going to miss the most about D.C. is — nothing.”
Feal also thanked Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, for getting the bill to the floor.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., singled out comedian Jon Stewart for campaigning on the vote of the bill.
After the voting of the bill, Stewart said that working with September 11,2001 terror attack victims was an honor to his life.
“We can never repay all the 9/11 community has done for our country, but we can stop penalizing them. I’m hopeful that today begins the process of being able to heal without the burden of having to advocate.”
Before the bill’s final approval, two senators had proposed amendments to block the measure.
Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, had proposed that the funding be restricted to 10 years. While another amendment by senator Rand Paul, R-Ky, would have required offsets for the money spend on Victims Compensation Fund.
Lee and Paul were the only senators in the House who voted against the legislation, and Feal told them:
“We whipped your asses.”
After the vote, Paul tweeted:
“While I support our heroic first responders, I can’t in good conscience vote for legislation which to my dismay remains unfunded.”
Earlier this month, the 9/11 bill passed the House by a vote of 402-2, but Paul objected it when Gillibrand wanted to get the bill passed anonymously in the Senate.
It was noted that Lee had also placed a procedural hold on the legislation. And the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would add about $10.2 billion additional expenses over the next decade.
Senator Paul called for the funding of the Victim Compensation Fund be offset with cuts, citing the government’s debt of $22 trillion. But Paul’s augments led comedian Stewart to slam his claims and dubbed him a hypocrite.
Stewart accused Paul of trying to “balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community.”
The comedian testified alongside a cancer-stricken former New York police Det. Luis Alvarez, who was scheduled to undergo his 69th round of chemotherapy. Sadly, Alvarez died three weeks later at age 53.
The bill now includes Alvarez’s name and had 74 Senate co-sponsors. It’s expected to be signed into law by the president, a native New Yorker, on Friday afternoon.