Originally published in 2019.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, over 6,000 surviving victims were left injured. 1,140 Manhattan residents were diagnosed with cancer due to “exposure to toxins at Ground Zero.” Fourteen hundred rescue workers have died from this exposure, and 11 women have miscarried.
The number of 9/11-related injuries and ailments continues to grow, even nearly 20 years after the attack.
Actor, comedian, and New York City native Jon Stewart has worked with Congress to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which was intended to run out in 2020.
The visitor’s gallery above the Senate floor brimmed with emotion, relief, and hope as Stewart and his supporters realized their bill would pass.
The most recent compensation fund, which extended from 2015 to 2020, was worth $7.4 billion. That money was pulled from United States government funds (which are taxpayer-funded).
The renewed compensation fund, which lasts until 2090, does not have an assigned value. The fund will cover the costs that are deemed necessary by Congress. However, the Congressional Budget Office predicts the fund will call for $10 billion over the next decade alone.
Where exactly are these funds going? The majority of the money goes to families who were directly affected by the attacks. The money acts as a settlement in return for the families’ agreement not to file lawsuits against the concerned airlines.
Additionally, the victim compensation fund is primarily intended for medical expenses to treat long-term injuries and illnesses resulting from the attacks.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader from New York City, stated in response to the bill’s passing, “Righteousness in this mangled town . . . Can sometimes prevail. And thank God it did.”
Stewart, who donned an FDNY t-shirt at the bill’s hearing, was all smiling in the gallery as the cause he so passionately pushed for was finally coming to fruition.
In his address given after the bill’s passing, Stewart said, “There have been too many funerals, too many hospices, and these families deserve better. I’m hopeful that today begins the process of being able to heal without the burden of having to advocate.”
President Trump is expected to sign the bill soon.