President Signs Permanent Reauthorization of 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund

Following overwhelming support in the Senate and House, the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act has been signed into law. On Monday, a crowd of first responders and their families watched as President Trump gave remarks commending Congress for coming together around this issue.

According to reports, thousands of people have been diagnosed with cancers linked to the toxins released into the air during the falling of the World Trade Center towers. Thousands more suffer from respiratory illness related to the attacks. Some experts predict the number of those with 9/11 related illnesses will soon outnumber those who died on that day.

The Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) aids individuals suffering from illness and their families with medical costs.

The fund’s administrator, Rupa Bhattacharyya, announced in February that there was "insufficient funding" to "pay all current and projected claims at the same levels as under current policies and procedures." Administrator Bhattacharyya said all future claims would only be paid a fraction of their prior value due to the insufficient funds and lack of program reauthorization.

The legislation to permanently provide money for the fund passed the House earlier this month on a 402-12 vote.

The bill hit a roadblock in the Senate when Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced their opposition over spending on the fund.

“It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in the country," Paul said. "And therefore any new spending …  should be offset by cutting spending that's less valuable. We need to, at the very least, have this debate."

Both Paul and Lee offered amendments to the legislation to offset the fund that were ultimately rejected.

“In the wake of the September 11th attacks, courageous Americans raced into smoke, fire, and debris in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  The whole world witnessed the might and resilience of our nation in the extraordinary men and women of the New York Fire Department and the New York Police Department, selfless patriots of unmatched character and devotion,” President Trump said at the signing.

“For your entire lives, you have gone far beyond your duty to us, and today we strive to fulfill our sacred duty to you,” the president concluded.

The Department of Justice announced Monday afternoon that they would end award reductions and restore previously reduced awards following the legislation’s signing.

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