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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2010 -- (House of Representatives - June 25, 2009)


Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to ask for your help in providing fair and adequate disability benefits to our Nation's Federal firefighters.

Together with the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Platts), I introduced the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act to create the presumption that Federal firefighters who become disabled by heart disease, lung disease, certain cancers, and other infectious diseases contracted the illness on the job. This effort is strongly supported by all five major fire organizations and has 130 bipartisan cosponsors.

I offered this bill with an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act; however, it was not made in order due to PAYGO issues.

Mr. SKELTON. I certainly thank the gentlelady for raising this important issue, and I assure her that I certainly share her concern for our Federal firefighters.

While protecting our national interests in military installations, nuclear facilities, VA hospitals, and other Federal facilities, Federal firefighters are routinely exposed to toxic substances, biohazards, temperature extremes, and stress. I would be pleased to continue working with the gentlelady on this important issue.

Mrs. CAPPS. I thank the chairman for his commitment to improving the health and welfare of our Federal firefighters.

Forty-two States have already recognized this link by providing some sort of presumptive disability benefits for their State, county, and city firefighters. This creates a serious difference in benefits between Federal and municipal firefighters, which is basically unfair. More States enact presumptive disability legislation each year, so this is a problem that continues to grow and the disparity continues to be more apparent. Clearly, there is a pressing need for this legislation.


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