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The New York congressional delegation is working to include more than $3 billion in a must-pass, year-end spending package to shore up the World Trade Center Health Program created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she and other lawmakers want to insert a $3.6 billion plan ensuring 9/11 victims will continue having access to health-care programs created after the attacks into a roughly $1.7 trillion plan to fund federal programs in fiscal 2023. Leaders and appropriators are negotiating the package now.
“If we don’t include this additional funding, people won’t be able to get their cancer treatments,” said Gillibrand, who is working with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other members of the state’s congressional delegation to get the money tucked into the omnibus.
The program was created in 2011 to provide medical treatments to first responders and other survivors of the attacks. The formula for distributing the funds hasn’t kept up with actual costs and as a result, the program could soon be unable to accept new members.
“This is literally just the cost of inflation, which has been higher for health care than anything else,” Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand described as a “technical fix” the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act (S. 2683) she and Schumer are cosponsoring with other lawmakers. The bill would close the funding gap by delivering $3.6 billion in supplemental funds. She said the money would be considered mandatory under the federal budget, meaning they wouldn’t be subject to annual appropriations battles.
Schumer hoped to have the Senate approve the funding as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (Public Law 117–169). But after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) forced him to scale back that bill, Schumer told reporters he would look for another “must-pass bill” to get it enacted.
“There’s going to be an opportunity, and we’re going to get it done,” Schumer told reporters at the time.
Schumer said Tuesday talks on the omnibus are intensifying with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and other lawmakers in an attempt to finish the package and avoid another continuing resolution to fund the government. Gillibrand said an omnibus is the best bet for advocates to include the money.
“I think this will be unanimously supported as long as we have a vehicle on which we can add it,” Gillibrand said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Ognanovich in Washington at email@example.com