Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday that he will push Congress for a $3 billion infusion of federal cash to rescue the financially troubled 9/11 health-care fund.
The New York Democrat and Senate majority leader said he will seek to secure the funds in the federal budget to offset the expected shortfall in the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical care and services for first responders and others affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
“We have seen the toll a funding crisis takes on our 9/11 heroes and those made sick by the despicable attack on New York 21 years ago,” Schumer said, speaking surrounded by terror-attack survivors and advocates.
“So I am here, joined in support by so many friends and selfless advocates, to say that we must address the World Trade Center Health Program funding issue as soon as possible.”
He vowed to “make a push” to get the funding approved this year.
John Feal, a longtime and vocal advocate of 9/11 first responders, said he was determined to have the measure approved — despite any political opposition that could surface.
“I have zero tolerance for elected officials to get in our way,” Feal said. “I’ve left a trail of bodies of elected officials who get in our way.
“We can’t help those who died on 9/11, but we can help those who are sick,” he added. “We can help those by getting the $3 billion back in the World Trade Center Health Program.”
Schumer said he will request that the full amount be included in the budget.
“Yes,” he said. “[The] full $3 billion.”
The announcement comes on the 21st anniversary of the attacks that downed the Twin Towers and damaged the Pentagon, killing several thousand Americans.
Congress has been working to come up with the funds to rescue the program.
The WTC health program, administered under the oversight of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides free medical treatment and monitoring for health-related issues linked to the 9/11 attacks.
On the 20th anniversary of the attacks last year, the Department of Justice acknowledged that more people — both first-responders and those who live ad work in Lower Manhattan — had died from health-related illness at Ground Zero than from the actual terror attack.
The attack killed 2,996 people, while more than 3,300 also dying from health-related issues.