9/11 Victim Compensation Fund UpdateJuly 12, 2019
UPDATE: On Monday, July 29, 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed the bi-partisan bill that extends the VCF — the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act — until 2092. Claims may be filed until December 18, 2090. All pending and future claims will not be subject to cuts or reduced awards. After 2092, the Fund will be closed.
UPDATE: On July 23, 2019, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve extending the funding for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, with only two Senators voting against the bill – Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). Both Paul and Lee’s proposed funding caps were rejected by the Senate as well.
UPDATE: The Senate is slated to vote on the funding of the VCF during the afternoon of Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
The vote is being held up by additional funding caps proposed by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). The following list of “talking points” has been prepared to equip you when calling your own Senators to urge them to pass the VCF.
Talking Points on Proposed Lee Amendment to HR 1327
Senator Lee is proposing an amendment to HR 1327 the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act that would cap the funding of the program at $10.2 billion for the first ten years and then cap funding for the reminder of the life of the program another $10 billion.
- We have capped this program twice before (in 2010 and 2015).
- The 2010 bill had a cap and the payments were curtailed from the beginning in order to make sure everyone got something, but no one got what they were owed. As a result, these heroes had to come back to Congress, hat in hand and ill, to ask for more money.
- The 2015 bill had a cap and it ran out of money three years later. Again, victims did not get what they were owed and these heroes — now sick and dying — had to come back to ask for more money.
- Establishing yet another cap in 2019 will lead to the same result. No one will get what they are owed and these heroes — the ones who are still with us — will have to come back to beg for more money.
- The bipartisan bill — supported by 75 co-sponsors — doesn’t have a cap and was extended through the lifetime of the survivors until 2090 to avoid this very thing happening again.
- Please don’t drag these heroes and their families back to beg for more funding in a few years.
- Let’s do the right thing and provide them what they need in their hour of need.
- On 9/11/01, and in the days and months that followed, none of these first responders put a cap on their efforts, and we should not have the U.S. Senate put a cap on our efforts to help them.
Talking Points on the Paul Amendment
Senator Paul is proposing an amendment to HR. 1327 which would require a $2 billion across-the-budget cut to all federal programs for five years.
- Cutting funding from every program across the board will mean less funding for health research, less funding for defense funding, less funding for rural development, and everything else that the government funds.
- Passing the Paul Amendment would also set a dangerous precedent in using across-the-board spending cuts to pay for programming.
- Republicans unanimously voted for a $1.5 trillion tax cut without paying for it, and yet when the heroes of 9/11 need funding they somehow “find” fiscal responsibility.
If you wish to call Senator Rand Paul’s office, he can be reached at 202-224-4343.
If you wish to call Senator Mike Lee’s office, he can be reached at 202-224-5444.
Here’s the backstory from the law firm of Pitta & Baione LLP as of Wednesday, July 17, 2019, issued in the form of this press release:
“Senate Vote on 9/11 VCF bill Blocked by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY)
Today, Senator and 2020 Presidential Candidate Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) made a motion to vote on the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, of which she is a named introductory sponsor.
Unfortunately, two Senators blocked the vote: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), further delaying health and compensation benefits for 9/11 responders and victims.
Senator Rand Paul stated, “I reserve the right to object. It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country — we have a $22 trillion debt, [and] we’re adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year — and therefore any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that’s going to have longevity of 70, 80 years, should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable.”
Senator Rand Paul’s office can be reached at 202-224-4343.
In the face of firefighters camped outside his office today, Senator Lee’s representative released the following statement: “Sen. Lee is seeking a vote to ensure the fund has the proper oversight in place to prevent fraud and abuse,” said the spokesperson.
Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Rupa Bhattacharyya, already testified by the House Judiciary Committee, prior to a 402-12 House vote, explaining that the VCF, “has a robust system of standards and procedures in place to prevent fraud,” including verifying key information with various third parties, “multiple internal checks” to search for potential indicators of fraud, “FBI background checks for every individual receiving a VCF payment” and a “strong partnership with the Department’s Office of the Inspector General.” She then stated, “the VCF under the Zadroga Act has not documented any instance of fraud in a paid claim.”
Senator Mike Lee’s office can be reached at 202-224-5444.
Here’s the backstory: On July 12, 2019, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the bill introduced last February to extend the funding of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. The new bill — H.R. 1327 / S. 546 — has been renamed the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.” This would fund the VCF through fiscal year 2090.
The House vote was 402-12, with only 11 Republicans and Rep. Justin Amash, Independent from Michigan, voting against the bill.
The bill now goes to the United States Senate.