Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, state and local leaders are urging Congress to extend a law compensates first responders and survivors of the terrorist attacks.
Steps away from the World Trade Center, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Reps. Peter King, Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler on Monday in support of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Named after an New York City Police officer who died in 2006 from an illness attributed to fallout from the attacks, the law was approved by Congress in 2010 after a drawn-out U.S. Senate battle and Republican filibuster.
Parts of the $4.3 billion bill, which was $7.4 billion before Senate Republicans cut the amount, are set to expire in 2015. It was unclear how much the reauthorization would cost.
"For Congress to not continue to fulfill it’s undeniable moral obligation by reauthorizing these programs, they will close and our government will have turned its back on these heroes," Gillibrand told reporters. "That's not who we are as Americans."
Supporters of the law said more than 30,000 responders and survivors from the day of the attacks have an illness or injury directly or indirectly caused on Sept. 11. More than two out of three of those require treatment for more than one ailment.
"This is not a Republican issue. This is not a Democratic issue," Rep. King said. "This is an American issue. We have an obligation as Americans to provide them with the health care that they need, the families the compensation that they need."
Both the House and Senate will see bills introduced before October of this year. Those gathered on Monday, including de Blasio, argued it should be a question of whether or not the bill should approved again.
"Why is there a question that brave men and women who served under the most adverse circumstances, after an attack on our country – why is there a question about them getting what they deserve?" de Blasio asked. "There should be no question. This should not be a debate."
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria