STAMFORD, Conn. — Many September 11 first responders — and their families — will benefit from the permanent extensions of a victim fund and health program, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said as they hailed the changes at an event in Stamford on Tuesday.
The World Trade Center Health Program and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund benefits many who live in Fairfield County.
“This is personal for us here in Connecticut,” Murphy said. “This was our backyard.”
The extensions were part of an omnibus budget measure, which passed with broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate last month.
While Blumenthal and Murphy championed legislation in the Senate to permanently extend both the program and the fund, they were met with resistance along the way.
“This should have been much be much easier than it was,” Murphy said.
Lawmakers had to come up with offsetting spending cuts to fund the first responder benefits, Murphy said. He said the cuts set a double standard because lawmakers weren’t asked to make offsetting cuts for other government expenditures such as war.
But, given the size of the overall federal budget and the sacrifice of the first responders, Blumenthal said cost of the benefits is a “pittance.”
The measures also reassures young first responder recruits, Murphy said.
“This sends a message to young men and women who are going to sing up to be first responders that if you put yourself in harm’s way, your government, your community will be there,” Murphy said.
The World Trade Center Health Program provides for medical treatment and monitoring of more than 33,000 first responders and survivors who have September 11-related illnesses, including those who have become ill after exposure to asbestos at ground zero.
Since its inception, the Victim Compensation Fund has provided over $1.44 billion to responders, survivors, and their families. The fund supports 381 Connecticut first responders and 48 survivors who are supported by the World Trade Center Health Program.
Although 38 Connecticut residents have already received compensation from the victim’s fund, hundreds more have registered claims.
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