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Federal proposal would add $2 billion to World Trade Center health program

FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2001 file photo, firefighters make their way over the ruins of the World Trade Center through clouds of dust and smoke at ground zero in New York. With the Oct. 3, 2013 deadline looming, more than 32,000 people have applied to the federal compensation fund for people with illnesses that might be related to toxic fallout from the attacks, program officials said. (AP Photo/Stan Honda, Pool, File)
Stan Honda
Firefighters make their way over the ruins of the World Trade Center through clouds of dust and smoke at ground zero in New York.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have proposed an additional $2 billion for the World Trade Center Health Program.

The program provides assistance with healthcare expenses for first responders and survivors of the September 11 terror attacks, being treated for an array of health conditions, including cancer, asthma, and COPD, as well as PTSD and depression.

In December, Congress approved $1 billion for the program. Bill sponsor U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, said that's not nearly enough thanks to inflation, and a higher number of enrollment than expected.

“This is a bipartisan and nationwide issue. Injured and sick 9/11 responders and survivors are in every state, and in 434 of our 435 congressional districts.” 

The proposal would also expand the program to include Pentagon and Pennsylvania first responders.

“This is not a New York problem, but an American problem. Just as 9/11 was not just an attack on our city, but on our values as a country," said U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), another bill sponsor. "Today, I am making a direct appeal to my colleagues in both the house and the senate — look inward. Do the right thing."

The additional funding could face opposition in the House, as many Republicans are looking to cut spending on programs.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.