The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Public Citizen Urges Passage of Historic Health and Safety Legislation for Heroic Sept. 11 Workers

Statement of Alex Chasick, Policy Counsel, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division


As Congress wraps up its lame-duck session, Public Citizen urges
lawmakers not to adjourn before passing the bipartisan James Zadroga
9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. This bill will provide medical
treatment for emergency personnel and other workers who risked their
lives in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Police and fire personnel, emergency medical technicians,
construction workers, and others went above and beyond the call of duty
to help our country heal after Sept. 11, and we owe them the same.

It's unconscionable that the Sept. 11 heroes are still fighting for
treatment of medical conditions arising from their heroism. It's beyond
belief that this Congress would fail to act to deliver them the care
they need.

Emergency personnel responding to the Sept. 11 attacks performed
their duties near the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in
Pennsylvania in a dangerous cloud of asbestos, lead, jet fuel, smoke and
other chemicals. These conditions created long-lasting physical and
mental health problems, which require continuing medical care.

A recent report by the AFL-CIO found that almost 10 years later, more
than 13,000 first responders are still receiving treatment for the
injuries and illnesses sustained during the Sept. 11 response. The
report also found that at least 100,000 other personnel were exposed to
these hazards during response and cleanup efforts. This bill will set
aside funding to diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses sustained by
these heroic workers.

This bill has received broad bipartisan support, and the U.S. House
of Representatives passed the bill by a large margin earlier this year.
Despite consistent support from across the political spectrum, Sen. Tom
Coburn (R-Okla.) is threatening to hold the bill hostage and deny heroic
workers this critical care.

All workers deserve a workplace free of hazards. When a national
catastrophe like Sept. 11 makes such a workplace an impossibility,
workers deserve medical treatment for injuries and illnesses suffered
from doing their jobs. This legislation will provide aid to workers who
risked their own health to save others, and Public Citizen urges the
Senate to pass it.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

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