Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today asked Southern Arizona to join him in commemorating the bravery of the first responders -- including police, firefighters and medical personnel -- who assisted in the recovery from the 9/11 attacks. Grijalva said Congress and the entire country "still owe them a great debt of gratitude and remembrance."
Grijalva voted in favor of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act -- opposed by Reps. John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan -- that became law last year. The bill that passed excluded health coverage for 58 forms of cancer that have been linked to Ground Zero exposures, but federal officials subsequently ruled that the fund created by the law would cover medical costs for those cancers, meaning the initial appropriation of $2.775 billion will likely be depleted ahead of schedule. Rep. Grijalva said he would favor legislation or an appropriations measure this year to provide additional health coverage funding, which would need Republican support in the House to become law.
"We need to improve benefits for current and past first responders and ensure their health and prosperity not just while they serve, but when they retire or return to civilian life," Grijalva said. "They put their lives at risk to protect us. The least we can do is help those who get sick because of hazardous on-the-job exposures and make sure their families are protected if they can't keep working. Today is a day to remember what it really means to protect your community and your country, and to give appropriate thanks to those who do it so bravely every day."