House Committee Advances Bill To Replenish 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

By WCBS Newsradio 880

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would replenish the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund following an emotional hearing.

Comedian Jon Stewart joined sickened first responders and students on Capitol Hill for the hearing Tuesday and blasted lawmakers for forcing them to beg for help.

Stewart said the disrespect shown to first responders is “utterly unacceptable.”

Retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez also testified at the hearing, one day before his 69th round of chemotherapy.

“I should not be here with you, but you made me come,” Alvarez told lawmakers.

Speaking with WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell, he noted that he, and other cancer-stricken first responders had a duty to come to Capitol Hill and demand Congress replenish the fund that has nearly run dry.

“We have to do it, because if we don’t do it, nobody else will,” he said.

He found out that he had stage four cancer two years ago. His wife has pleaded with him to stop the treatments that have taken a drastic toll on his heath, but he says he’s determined to set an example for his teenage sons.

“We’re going to beat this,” he told Haskell.

Following the news that the House committee had voted to advance the bill, Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter to praise the decision. 

"This is a huge step forward and it wouldn’t have happened without the powerful testimony of our 9/11 first responders and survivors or the leadership of our congressional delegation," the mayor wrote. "'Never forget' isn’t a slogan, it’s a promise. The House must honor that promise."

More than 40,000 people have applied to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, and more than $5 billion in benefits have been awarded to date.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department said the fund is being depleted and that benefit payments will be cut up to 70 percent.

The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund is set to run out of money by 2020. The House is expected to pass the “Never Forget The Heroes Act,” which would replenish the fund through next year.

The bill moves to the full House for a vote next month.