WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate passed a bill Tuesday to ensure a fund to compensate victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks never runs out of money — and that first responders won’t have to return to Congress to plead for more funding.
As reported by NBC News, The vote came after intense lobbying from ailing 9/11 first responders — including one who died shortly after testifying before Congress last month.
The bill, which was passed by a vote of 97-2, would authorize money for the fund through 2092, essentially making it permanent.
“I’m going to ask my team now to put down your swords and pick up your rakes and go home, and hopefully, we don’t have to come back,” victims’ advocate John Feal told his fellow first responders at a news conference afterwards. “What I’m going to miss the most about D.C. is nothing.”
Another of the bill’s champions, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., singled out comedian Jon Stewart for his activism on the issue.
“I think we can all agree I’m the real hero,” Stewart quipped, before saying working with the 9/11 first responders was “the honor of my life.”
“We can never repay all the 9/11 community has done for our country, but we can stop penalizing them,” Stewart said.
Before final passage, the chamber defeated two proposed amendments to the bill: One, from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would have restricted the authorization to 10 years; the other, from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, would have required offsets for the money spent on the fund.
Paul and Lee were the only senators who voted against the legislation.
“We whipped your asses,” Feal said of the pair.
Paul tweeted after the vote: “While I support our heroic first responders, I can’t in good conscience vote for legislation which to my dismay remains unfunded.”
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