9/11 VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND: AN 18-YEAR FIGHT

Dec. 22, 2010: Andrew Newton, an aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) listening to World Trade Center first responders, Lower Manhattan residents and others plead for passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Sen. Sessions had said he opposed the bill but later in the day, voted for it.

Sept. 29, 2010: People who had come to Washington, D.C. to support the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was up for a vote in the House of Representatives, lined up to enter the Capitol Building.

Nov. 2, 2015: U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, other members of Congress, union leaders, firefighters and others gathered at a rally at the World Trade Center site to protest Congressional roadblocks to permanent reauthorization of the Zadroga Act.


Nov. 16, 2010: City Councilmember Margaret Chin with Lower Manhattan residents Diane Stein, Catherine McVay Hughes and (with back to camera) Maureen Silverman, arriving in Washington, D.C. to urge the U.S. Senate to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Dec. 22, 2010: At the press conference following passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act by the U.S. Senate, John Feal, founder and president of the FealGood Foundation, was congratulated by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer for his lobbying work in favor of the bill.

Dec. 22, 2010: First responders and their families walking the halls of the Russell Senate Office Building on the morning of Dec. 22, 2010, in a last attempt to lobby for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The bill passed later that day.

Dec. 22, 2010: Denise and Rhonda Villamia, volunteers at the World Trade Center site, crying and rejoicing after the U.S. Senate passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act on Dec. 22, 2010.

With cheers and clapping, spectators in the House of Representatives gallery greeted the passage on July 12, 2019 of a bill that would extend the benefits of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090, essentially making it permanent. The bill passed the Senate on July 23 by a vote of 97 to 2. President Trump is expected to sign it.


The Fund ("VCF") was created to compensate any person(or the representative of a deceased individual) who was injured or killed on September 11, 2001 because of the attack on the Twin Towers. The original VCF operated from 2001-2004. The Fund was reactivated in 2011 and authorized to operate for five years. It got another reprieve in December 2015, allowing victims to submit their claims until Dec. 18, 2020. But claims began to snowball as more and more people got sick. On Feb. 15, 2019, the Special Master determined that the funding remaining in the VCF would not be enough to pay all pending and projected claims under then-current VCF policies and procedures. This elicited vehement protests, and not for the first time. The fight over funding has been going on for years. Victory was only possible because the people who fought this battle refused to give up, making trip after trip to Washington, D.C. to make their case in Congress.


John Feal, a demolitions supervisor who volunteered at the World Trade Center site and who lost half his foot when an eight-ton steel beam fell on it, has been dogged in his pursuit of help and equity for first responders and their families. So have Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, who, along with Representative Peter King, have shepherded 9/11 funding bills through the House. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gilliband have fought the funding battle in the Senate.


“Today is a victory for the responders and survivors of September 11 and for the allies who have fought alongside us for years to reach this moment,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler when the VCF act passed the House. “For eighteen years, we promised the responders and survivors of the September 11 attacks that we would never forget their bravery on that fateful day. The House has finally lived up to this promise, fulfilling our moral obligation to, in Lincoln’s words ‘care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan’, and it is imperative that the Senate do the same.” — Terese Loeb Kreuzer


ALL PHOTOS © TERESE LOEB KREUZER

Sept. 29, 2010: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference in the Rayburn House Office Building after H.R. 847 — the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — passed the House of Representatives. Standing next to her were the three principal sponsors of the bill, Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Peter King.

Sept. 8, 2014: People whose health was affected by 9/11 at a press conference in Lower Manhattan promoting reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Dec. 22, 2010: After the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives had passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act on Dec. 22, 2010, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand took off her shoes as she walked down the hall back to her office.

Sept. 29, 2010: Joseph Zadroga, father of NYPD detective James Zadroga who died at the age of 34 and  for whom the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was named, looked pensive on a bus going to Washington, D.C.  to support the bill in the House of Representatives that would provide health care and compensation for those whose health was affected by work and proximity to the World Trade Center. Debbie Nehlsen, whose husband was evacuated from a building next to the World Trade Center site and who has been unable to work since was comforted by a fellow passenger.

Dec. 6, 2015: As U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke, Jack McNamara, 9, held a sign at a rally urging passage of the Zadroga Act to fund permanent health care for first responders and others sickened by the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 and to provide a five-year extension of the Victims’ Compensation Fund. Jack’s father, John McNamara, a firefighter, died in 2009 of colon cancer caused by his service at the World Trade Center. 

Downtown Post NYC

Dec. 22, 2010: At the press conference following the U.S. Senate's passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who spearheaded the bill in the Senate, was flanked by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Harry Reid (D-NV).

Dec. 3, 2015: Prior to a rally on the lawn in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., a former member of the New York Police Department, now in a wheel chair, held a sign saying that First Responders after the World Trade Center attack on 9/11 deserved permanent health care.  Jon Stewart was among those who addressed the rally.