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Zadroga Act reauthorization passes through Congress

Dec 18, 2015

Zadroga Act reauthorization finally passes through Congress; health care program extended 75 years for 9/11 first responders

Survivors of Sept. 11 can finally breathe easy: Reauthorization of the Zadroga Act has finally made it through Congress.

The House and Senate easily passed a spending package Friday morning that includes funds to extend the healthcare program for first responders and others suffering lingering health problems from 9/11 for 75 years, and extend the Victims Compensation Fund to help first responders who are too sick to work and their families for five years.

“After 15 years, the heroes and survivors of 9/11 will know that their health care is permanent and their compensation is full. This House has voted, the Senate is next. Congress has spoken. It is all thanks to the men and women who made that long trip to Washington to walk the halls of Congress and remind us all that we should and can never forget," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who has fought for more than a decade to create the program and make it permanent.

Reauthorization took years, with first responders making hundreds of trips to the Capitol to guilt Congress into doing its job.

The total package to keep the government funded, called the omnibus, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, with almost all Democrats and a majority of Republicans voting for it.

“This is a very important moment for all of us,” a teary-eyed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said during a press conference immediately after the vote, her voice quavering as she called it a “joyful moment.”

“All my gratitude goes to the first responders,” she said. “This is my proudest day in Washington.”

“I can finally say I’m proud of my country,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) told the Daily News.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill.

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