The Senate approved $676 million toward a healthcare fund for first responders and other individuals affected by toxic chemicals during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Receiving attention in the last few years due to TV host Jon Stewart's activism on the separate 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the World Trade Center Health Program will receive new funding in the 2024 budget.
The bill also expands eligibility to more 9/11 responders, including active-duty Department of Defense military or civilians at the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, sites during the attacks.
New York Democrat Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer led the effort, which obtained wide-ranging bipartisan support.
"This important amendment will help close the funding shortfall in the World Trade Center Health Program and uphold our promise to care for all those still suffering from 9/11-related illnesses," Gillibrand stated.
The New York Post noted that many first responders, downtown residents, workers, and students were sickened from breathing the toxic air and later developed respiratory diseases and cancers.
Schumer on the Senate floor called the legislation "a huge step forward towards making sure the first responders and those injured on 9/11 are never left behind" and offered a tribute to the first responders.
"Before the smoke even cleared on 9/11 — before the rubble even quit burning — our first responders, firefighters, our police officers, EMTs, FBI agents, construction workers were just running to danger, trying to do their job and save lives," the senator emphasized. "And 22 years later, people are still getting sick from the dust, the air, the poisons."
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