A federal fund that awards money to first responders and survivors of the World Trade Center attack is almost empty. And despite bipartisan support, legislation to permanently fund the program is stalled in Congress.
The fund provides survivors and their families money for medical bills. The program has faced an increased number of claims in recent years and has cut down on how much money it gives out.
New York’s congressional delegation introduced a bipartisan bill to fully fund the program, but it’s not going anywhere.
Attorney Michael Barasch, who represents thousands of survivors and also lobbies for the bill, says some members of Congress think New York has received enough.
“I can’t tell you how many senators who I’ve been trying to convince to support this legislation, on September 11 they have no problem wrapping themselves in the flag, yet when I’m asking them now to vote and cosponsor this legislation, they’re quiet.”
Barasch says New Yorkers are not the only beneficiaries. First responders, survivors and their families now live across the country.
Ingrid Morales Shea received her full claim from the fund after her husband passed away from a brain tumor in 2017. He was a first responder. She says the fund gave her stability.
“I don’t have to struggle, I don’t have to worry about anything because I have something to fall onto. I have that security blanket there that I’m okay for the future”
She says the first responders, survivors and their families often have to pay out-of-pocket to take care of their loved ones and they need the program to be fully funded.