NY1's Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Geoff Bennett broke the story earlier this week that members of the House ended their stalemate over the 9/11 health care bill. Today, he was first to report the news that the Zadroga Act will be included in a must-pass bill set to go before Congress. He filed this report:
On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan told fellow Republicans that the Zadroga Act will be inserted into a spending bill that Congress will approve.
Staten Island Rep. Dan Donovan was there for the announcement.
"People sacrificed their lives without knowing it back then," said Donovan, a Republican. "It’s time for government to answer their call. When this omnibus bill passes, government would have answered their call."
NY1 was first to report the news.
The Zadroga Act provides health care to firefighters and other first responders who got sick from working at the World Trade Center site.
But the law has expired, and the money will run out next year unless Congress acts. With Ryan's pledge, the focus now turns to the Senate.
"The only thing standing in our way is some of the Republican leadership who act like they are under no rush to pass this bill or the omnibus, for that matter, which is the last vehicle for Zadroga," said New York Sen. Charles Schumer during a Thursday news conference on Capitol Hill.
Schumer was flanked by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Bratton was in Washington to make a personal appeal to lawmakers.
"This country has an obligation," he said during the news conference. "It has an obligation, it has a debt to those who went toward danger and stayed in danger."
Schumer says Senate lawmakers are inching closer to joining the House in agreeing on how to pay for the legislation.
Senator Gillibrand credited the 9/11 first responders for the pace of progress.
"The reality is nothing ever works here unless regular people demand it," Gillibrand said. "These firefighters and NYPD officers are down here week after week. Our first responders have been relentless. It's their voices that have truly made the difference."
"It was the work of those who came to D.C. sick, in wheelchairs, with oxygen tanks, stage four lung cancer," added 9/11 first responder advocate, John Feal. "They busted their asses for those who were home and sick and dying."
Feal says he's dedicated 12 years advocating for 9/11 first responders like himself.
"There’s nothing to be proud of," he said. "We’re going to get a bill passed that saves lives. Where’s the comfort in that? Too many people have died, too many good people have suffered. Too many good people have waited."
The wait could be over as early as next week. That's when the House, at least, is set to vote on that major government spending bill, which is said to include the Zadroga Act.