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9/11 First-Responders Will Face Dire Consequences Because Congress Failed To Act

Jon Stewart had four 9/11 first-responders on the Daily Show in 2010. He invited them onto the show to discuss the Senate’s filibuster of a bill that would cover health issues suffered by the brave men and women who served at ground zero in the aftermath of America’s greatest tragedy. The bill was passed, but only on a temporary basis. Now these benefits are going to expire because of Congress’s inaction.

Jon Stewart turns around to address the heroes behind him at a rally in September.

The bill was passed into law and named The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to honor James Zadroga, who died from health issues related to serving in the NYPD at ground zero. Many toxins were released into the air after the Twin Towers fell, and the cancers caused by these toxins have taken years to show themselves. The Zadroga Act was created because of the latent nature of health conditions related to ground zero. 9/11 first-responders shouldn’t have to worry about their mounting medical bills for illnesses contracted by serving their country. The the least the government could do to honor their selfless service is to keep the Zadroga Act alive and eliminate the medical bills paid for 9/11-related health conditions.

The law, however, was passed on a temporary basis to prevent people from abusing funds. In regards to toxins released on Sept. 11th causing cancer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said:

“We didn’t know exactly which cancers were caused by the toxins, but during the last five years, we’ve documented it, we’ve studied it, we can go back to our colleagues and say, ‘This program works’….“We know exactly who is sick, why they’re sick, and we’ve developed specialized treatment for them,”

But without this law in place, first-responders won’t get the treatment they need. The Zadroga Act required a renewal this year so Congress could re-address the amount of money the government would allocate for these 9/11-related medical expenses.

The Freedom Towers stands in place of the Twin Towers / Via Andy Atzert

The Big Issue


Unfortunately, on October 1, 2015, Congress failed to renew the law and it expired. Unless Congress acts right away, 9/11 first-responders could be without medical coverage for their service-related issues. According to TIME, the health centers servicing first-responders will face huge financial challenges in February based on the Zadroga Act’s expiration. These heroes deserve to have the piece of mind that their medical bills will be covered. They deserve to know that, after taking care of us, our country will take care of them.

Jon Stewart has spoken out again about the government’s inaction regarding the Zadroga Act. He joined Sen. Gillibrand in Washington D.C. to rally for the law’s renewal. Stewart made a speech where he turned is back on the crowd to address the brave heroes who stood behind him. As a New Yorker himself, Stewart makes many good points his speech, lending his intelligence, his influence, and his political wit to this important cause. This speech is so inspiring!

Congress’s inaction on the Zadgroga Act is unacceptable. How will you let them know?

[warning, this video contains mild language]
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Will S. is a left-handed bibliophile who now owns a cherry-red Schwinn Traveler III. On summer afternoons you can almost see his vermilion shadow passing you at great speeds.