This Sept. will mark 18 years since the attacks on lower Manhattan that devastated America. Marked one of the largest terrorist attacks in the world, 2,997 people died in the attacks. Among those include first responders. 

From 2001-2003, the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) processed claims relating injuries and deaths associated with the terrorist attacks.  

Then in 2011, ten years after the events, the fund was reopened to compensate those who experienced health problems related to 9/11. 

According to the seventh annual status report of the VCF released in February, since 2011 it has received 50,170 eligibility claims. Only 23,641 have been approved and 16,175 are still processing. The VCF has rendered more than $5.1 billion in compensation to those affected by 9/11.  

However, in the same status report, the data indicated that the VCF has insufficient funds to pay all current and future claims. 

Fast forward to now, many of those first responders who survived the attacks are now feeling the adverse effects of their exposure to the toxic dust that settled in the World Trade Center complex. 

In an interview with NBC News last September, Dr. Michael Crane of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York talked about the World Trade Center Health Program and said 72,000 people are enrolled and 8,000 of them have cancer. 

“We’re at the point where the chronic disease of the known toxins, like asbestos, will start to happen,” Dr. Crane said. 

The $7.4 billion Congress approved in 2015 has run out.

As of Friday, July 12, the House passed the Never Forget Heroes Act, which extends the 9/11 Victim Fund Compensation (VCF) until 2090. The total vote was 402 to 12.

Representatives from both parties spoke out in agreeance with the bill. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tweeted yesterday, “Today, we recognize the brave heroes of 9/11, who selflessly came to our nation’s aide during its time of need. It is time to ensure their courage & sacrifice is honored by passing a fully-funded compensation fund. #Renew911VCF.” 

Republican Representative Pete King also took to Twitter yesterday, “Overwhelming passage of 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund in House this afternoon (402-12). Proud to have been a co-sponsor since beginning as well as speak on House floor in support. Great victory but grim reminder of those who have and will die from 9/11 illnesses. Never forget.” 

The bill is named in memory to first responders James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez, the men who fought to extend the 9/11 VCF to Congress. Alvarez succumbed to cancer just two weeks ago. 

The bill is now in the hands of the Senate. If the bill does pass, there will be a signing ceremony Aug. 2. 

Written ByMiguel Escalante

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