2023-2024 Budget Shortfall
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) was created by Congress in 2010 and was reauthorized in 2015 to remain open until 2090 after years of efforts by 9/11 responders and survivors to get Washington to recognize the health impacts of the toxins at Ground Zero that were impacting thousands.
However, in coming years, the World Trade Center Health Program will not have enough funds to provide all the care that is needed for those still suffering the physical and mental impact of 9/11 because the funding formal enacted in 2015 will not fully fund the growing costs of the program despite the efforts in the 2023 Omnibus. This includes the responders and survivors who will be newly diagnosed with 9/11-associated cancers caused by their toxic exposures in the coming years.
To fix this problem Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). along with Members of Congress Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Anthony D ’Esposito (R-NY), Dan Goldman (D-NY)introduced their bi partisan legislation, the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act of 2023 HR.1294/ S.569
This legislation would provide the funds needed to ensure that the slogan that we will never forget 9/11 is a reality and that 9/11 responders and survivors will continue to the get care that they need and deserve. This legislation , if signed into law would permanently address the projected funding shortfall and ensure that the World Trade Center Health Program will be fully funded going forward.
The legislation is in Committee in both the House and the Senate and no action has been taken.
HR 1294/S569 BILL TEXT
COSPONSORS OF 2023 LEGISLATION
List of Senate Sponsors S. 569
List of House Sponsors HR. 1294
While the legislation to ensure full funding of the World Trade Center Health Program has not had progress there have been successful efforts to accomplish some of its goals.
2023 AMENDMENT TO NATIONAL DEFENSE ACT (NDAA)
GILLIBRAND BRAUN AMENDMENT TO NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
On July 27th, 2023 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand ( D-NY), along with Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) sponsored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act ( NDAA) , amendment #1065 that was successfully adopted by an overwhelming bi partisan vote of 94 to 4. Four Senators, Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tommy Tuberville, (R-AL), Markwayne Mullins (R-OK) out of hundred voted no.
The Amendment would:
- Ensure that all 9/11 responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville who were active-duty DOD military or civilians, along with other Federal employees, will be able to join the program. Currently some responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville sites are prevented from joining.
- Help to close the impending funding shortfall facing the World Trade Center Health Program by providing an additional $444 million dollars to the program over the next ten years.
- This amendment was fully paid for under legislative rules.
The National Defense Authorization Act then passed the Senate and had to be reconciled with the House passed version that did not have this provision.
The final Agreed to Version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was passed by both Houses of Congress in December of 2023 and was signed into law by President Biden did finally include the $676 million amendment, as passed in the Senate.
This could not have been possible without the efforts of Congressman Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), who led the difficult effort in the House to ensure the Senate Amendment was included in the final version of the NDAA and who secured the support of Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) to join the effort.
While the World Trade Center Health Program is still facing a budget shortfall, the NDAA amendment helped to push back the date when cuts would have to be imposed and did fix the issue preventing some responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville crash site from joining the Health Program.