23:26 GMT +320 September 2019
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    9/11 First Responders Health Bill Expires Without Extension

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    US politicians love invoking the tragedy of 9/11 to justify just about everything under the sun. Just not the stuff that really matters.

    It’s been used to justify the Iraq War, despite Iraq having absolutely nothing to do with the 2001 attacks on New York, Washington, DC and rural Pennsylvania. It’s been used to justify a total shredding of the US Constitution and rights to privacy and against unlawful search and seizure. It’s been used to justify the torture of people kidnapped off of the streets of foreign countries and held without charge. It’s been used to justify the drone bombings of weddings in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    What it is no longer being invoked for, however, is the guarantee of health benefits for those first responders and rescue workers who ran to the World Trade Center buildings and rescued the injured, then spent months pouring through the rubble. 

    The air at Ground Zero was declared safe to breathe by Bush Administration EPA chairwoman and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. It was not. Around 3,700 survivors and first responders at the site of the 9/11 attacks have been diagnosed with cancer, according the CDC’s Worth Trade Center Health Program reports. The reports found that multiple chemical carcinogens were released as a result of the towers’ collapse. Many people have died from 9/11 that did not die on September 11, 2001.

    72,000 people enrolled in the World Trade Center health program now have to be notified that they may not receive care beyond September 2016 because the program they’ve relied on will have to start to shut down, Centers for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden said in a letter to the US Senate.

    The Zadroga Act, named in honor of NYPD detective and first responder James Zadroga after he died working rescue cleanup at Ground Zero, became law in 2010. Proponents of the law made up a surprising coalition including Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and NYC Patrolmens’ Benefit Association Union leader Patrick Lynch, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D) and Peter King (R), amongst many others.

    Also set to expire on Saturday is the $2.75 billion Victims Compensation Fund. If not renewed, anyone diagnosed with 9/11-linked cancers or illnesses after that date will not be eligible for financial assistance.

    Critics have lambasted the Boehner-led Congress as the most obstructionist in US government history. The US Senate not yet submitted a bill to extend Zadroga or make it permanent.


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