New Yorkers really, really support their first responders, those men and women who pitch themselves into every hideous circumstance where the lives of New Yorkers are at risk and who then try to rescue them. And the first responders on 9/11 are held in particularly high regard. They breathed in toxic smoke and ash, disregarded the heat, the flames, the crashing buildings and risked their lives over and over to do the best they possibly could for New Yorkers in danger and sadly for those who had already died.
And they suffered for that later on when the health affects of their desperate fight to help became clear. That was recognized when the Federal James Zadroger 9/11 Health Compensation Act was passed to make sure all 9/11 first responders got the health support they needed. Now that legislation is up for renewal and even though a bi-partisan group of 150 Congressmen and women have signed on to support the bill it has not been scheduled for a vote to extend it. And if the vote isn’t put, then 70,000 eligible New Yorkers will lose their monitoring and care.
Never one to let a glaring injustice go unacknowledged, Jon Stewart has led a deputation to Washington to try and prod the reluctant Congress into action because the Senate has already agreed to support the bill as soon as it has cleared Congress. See the video and catch Stewart’s very funny reference to the type of toxicity the deputation will face.
But he’s right. It is a disgrace that men and women who gave everything are in danger of losing their health benefits. As he said “This Congress – they are the last responders. You guys were the first responders’. Yes, yes, yes. Get a grip Congress and stop playing politics with people who deserve every support we can give them.