9/11 fund delay is shameful

Retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez and former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart at a House hearing on June 11, 2019 on the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. Photo Credit: EPA / Jim Lo Scalzo

Bid to help sick first responders is in hands of Trump, McConnell

Retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez and former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart at a House hearing on June 11, 2019 on the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
Retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez and former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart at a House hearing on June 11, 2019 on the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. Photo Credit: John Roca

This isn’t “a very complicated subject,” as President Donald Trump called it. And yes, there is reason to get “all bent out of shape” about this, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there is not.

The future of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for first responders and other survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks lies in the hands of Trump and McConnell. So, let’s set the record straight.

The fund is running out of money. Very soon, those who’ve gotten sick because they ran into the horror, worked on the pile or lived in the area won’t be able to pay their medical bills. Others who become sick won’t be able to file claims as of December 2020. So, once again, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and others find themselves traipsing to Washington to beg Congress for help.

That included retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez, who, just after dragging his gaunt, weary body to Washington to testify, entered hospice care and stopped treatment for his advanced cancer. His cancer is diagnosed as likely to be caused by the pulverized dust at Ground Zero that thousands of first responders like him breathed in after 9/11.

“I’m going to make sure that you never forget to take care of the 9/11 responders,” he told a congressional panel in a halting, weak voice. It’s horrifying that he had to make his case.

Never forgetting shouldn’t take any more meetings. And it’s not complicated.

Trump and McConnell have the power to stop this ridiculous, demeaning charade. On Tuesday, McConnell met with first responders and apparently promised to call a vote by August.

Now he has to deliver. Both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate should permanently authorize the compensation fund so that those who are sick and dying don’t have to beg anymore. Don’t wait. Don’t debate. Don’t tell us, “We’ll see what happens,” as Trump did last weekend.

Put a picture of Luis Alvarez on every Congress member’s desk.

Then vote.

The Editorial Board