As part of a large omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2016, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. The bill passed the House by a vote of 316-113, and the Senate 65-33.
The Zadroga Act provides health treatment and compensation to fire fighters and other responders who participated in the response and recovery efforts in the days, weeks and months after 9/11. More than 33,000 individuals are currently sick or injured from their work at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The IAFF worked with leadership from the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) Local 94, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA) Local 854 and other state and local affiliates to put pressure on congressional lawmakers to get this critically important legislation enacted.
General President Schaitberger joined the bill’s sponsors, local IAFF members and others at a press conference in Washington, DC today to celebrate the bill’s passage. “Today, the work of fire fighters from across this great nation, countless IAFF locals and state affiliates and IAFF staff has resulted in victory," he said, noting the tireless efforts on this issue by 1st District Vice President Bill Romaka, Local 854's Richie Alles and Local 94's Jim Slevin. "Today, Congress recognizes the sacrifices and commitment of the tens of thousands of fire fighters and other patriots who responded after 9/11 by ensuring they will always receive the health care they need and deserve.”
The IAFF has been working throughout the year to reauthorize the Zadroga Act. The issue was featured at the 2015 Legislative Conference, at which 700 IAFF leaders lobbied their senators and representatives to cosponsor the legislation. The effort to garner cosponsors continued throughout the year, with IAFF staff and local leaders earning a significant number of key cosponsors for the bill, including many conservative Republicans and recalcitrant Democrats. Efforts by IAFF staff also served to promote the bill in the press and with key House and Senate leaders.
The Zadroga Reauthorization Act, as passed by the Congress, will reauthorize the 9/11 Health Program through 2090, essentially making the program permanent, and provide an additional $4.6 billion for the Victims Compensation Fund, extending the fund for five additional years.