NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The House overwhelmingly approved a bill that would replenish and make permanent the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund last week, but questions remain about the legislation’s fate in the Senate.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, there’s an added urgency for the bull to pass as lawmakers start to look ahead to summer break.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, of New York, has called for the Senate to vote on his stand-alone bill sooner rather than later saying, “This must pass now.”
He says he does not want the bill to be added to a package of deals, which has happened in the past.
“Do not say that we’re going to use this bill to help pass a debt ceiling or a budget or something else,” Schumer said. “That always leads to things getting messed up.”
Victims advocate John Feal also is desperate to have the bill passes and has led hundreds of lobbying trips to Washington, D.C. He also accompanied 9/11 hero Lou Alvarez, whom the legislation is partially named for, last month to a Congressional subcommittee hearing.
Alvarez died shortly after his trip to Capitol Hill from stage 4 colon cancer and Feal notes that even after the legislation becomes a law, their fight won’t be over.
“When we get the bill passed, people are still going to die. Cops, firefighters, construction workers, Red Cross volunteers,” Feal said. “But we can offer their families comfort and relief.”
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal has also joined the call for the U.S. Senate to pass the legislation to ensure all victims of 9/11 are taken care of.
On Monday, he stood with 9/11 first responders, members of the West Haven Fire Department, and the Connecticut International Association of Firefighters demanding that there be an immediate vote.
The fund will provide compensation for any individual who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised there will be a vote before the August recess.