Joined: Mar 17, 2005
Location: Staten Island
|Posted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:22 pm Post subject: SENATOR CLINTON ANNOUNCES NEW 9/11 PROPOSAL
From Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:00 am to Sun Sep 17, 2006 1:59 am (included)
|For Immediate Release:
September 13, 2006
Press Office (202) 224-2243
SENATOR CLINTON ANNOUNCES NEW PROPOSAL TO ADDRESS 9/11 HEALTH EFFECTS
Underscores Need to Expand Monitoring and Treatment for First
Responders, Volunteers, Residents and Others
Washington, DC Ė Emphasizing the need to expand medical and mental
health monitoring and treatment of those whose health has been
affected by 9/11, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today unveiled a new
proposal to provide $1.9 billion in medical and mental health
monitoring and treatment grants, available from 2007-2011, to
firefighters, police officers, EMTs, paramedics, building and
construction trades workers, volunteers, residents, and others whose
health was directly impacted at Ground Zero and Fresh Kills. This
funding would be administered through the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention and would expand access to health monitoring and health
care to all of those who served, lived and worked in the area in the
aftermath of 9/11. Senator Clinton announced her proposal in remarks
on the floor of the Senate.
"I believe that we have a moral obligation as a nation to take care of
those who took care of us, as a way of demonstrating our solidarity
and commitment to them and honoring their resilience and courage in
the face of the terrorist attacks," said Senator Clinton.
Senator Clinton sounded the alarm soon after 9/11 that those exposed
to the toxic air at and around Ground Zero would suffer health effects
from their exposure and would need help in the days, months and years
to come. She led efforts to secure $12 million in December 2001 to
establish the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical
Screening Program run by Mt. Sinai, the first program designed to
track and monitor the health of 9/11 responders. Senator Clinton
worked with her colleagues to secure an additional $90 million to
expand the number of workers and volunteers eligible, and successfully
helped to restore $125 million in additional funding for long-term
medical and mental health monitoring and treatment and workers
Senator Clinton emphasized that a report released this month by Mt.
Sinai shows conclusively that thousands of first responders, workers,
volunteers, residents and others suffered mental and medical health
problems as a direct result of 9/11. Senator Clinton has underscored
that this report confirms the need to expand access to health
monitoring and treatment to cover all of those whose health was
affected by 9/11.
Video of Senator Clinton's remarks on the Senate floor are available
The following is the text of Senator Clinton's remarks on the Senate floor:
REMARKS BY SENATOR HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON ON THE SENATE FLOOR ON NEW
PROPOSAL TO ADDRESS 9/11 HEALTH EFFECTS
This amendment goes to the heart of our obligations to one another
with respect to homeland security. It arises out of the attacks of
9/11, the extraordinary physical damage that has been done to
thousands and thousands of New Yorkers and other Americans because
they responded to that disaster, because they worked in the area of
Ground Zero, because they lived or volunteered there.
Each of us is marked in our own way by the events of five years ago. I
need not recount them. We have just gone through a very painful
anniversary of those attacks. My hope is that we would not mark this
fifth-year anniversary merely by wreath layings and speeches and
solemn readings of the names of the victims, but that it would serve
as a reminder of our unfinished business and a call to action on
behalf of the service and sacrifice of first responders, workers and
volunteers who participated in the rescue and recovery at Ground Zero.
I have worked the past five years to honor the memories of those who
died, to take care of their families and to help rebuild New York. I
have fought for the funding that has generously been offered by the
American people to support the economic recovery of downtown New York,
building new buildings, helping to support small businesses, creating
new transportation infrastructure to replace that which was
obliterated. And I have worked to secure funding, starting in the fall
of 2001, to monitor those who were affected by the exposure to the
toxic gases and substances in the air as a result of the attacks and
the implosion of the buildings.
I believe that we have a moral obligation as a nation to take care of
those who both took care of us and who attempted to return to their
ordinary lives as a way of demonstrating solidarity and commitment,
resilience and courage in the face of the terrorist attacks.
There's much we have to do, which is why we are debating this bill
about port security, but there is so much more than port security.
The Democrats offered a comprehensive amendment to this bill that
contained the recommendations of many experts, including the 9/11
Commission. Sadly, it was unsuccessful, but that doesn't mean it
wasn't merited and that we cannot rest until we have a comprehensive,
well-funded strategy to deal with the threats we face. But Mr.
President, I rise today to talk about a very specific issue.
The toll of that fateful day goes beyond the families and friends and
colleagues, the brave responders who saved 25,000 people in the
greatest rescue mission in the history of the world. Their lives will
always stand in our memory and in honor. But thousands of others
rushed into that burning inferno. Thousands of others were there when
that enormous, devastating cloud of death and destruction covered much
of Lower Manhattan, crossed the river to Brooklyn, crossed the river
to New Jersey.
We have been working to understand the health implications for the
people who breathed that air. And that's why I've fought to get money
for a monitoring and screening program that was established both at
the fire department to take care of our firefighters and also at one
of our great hospitals, Mt. Sinai, to figure out what happened to
The work that commenced from the moment the first plane hit was
hazardous and difficult. And for as long as nine months we had
firefighters and police officers, trade and construction workers,
other workers, volunteers, residents -- we had probably at least
40,000 people coming and going and staying on that site. They worked
and lived amidst the dust and the fog and the smog, a toxic mix of
debris, smoke and chemicals.
I first visited the site about 24 hours after the attacks. I was
within blocks of the epicenter of the attack, and I could not see
anything, but I could smell it. I could taste it. I could literally
feel it. And as I watched that curtain of darkness part and the
firefighters walking out covered in black soot, dragging their fire
axes, barely able to stand after being on duty for probably 24 hours,
I had the first inkling that the damaging effects of 9/11 would last
far beyond the actual attack.
Now unfortunately our government officials in charge of making sure
health and working conditions did not negatively impact our first
responders sent mixed signals at best. I would go further. They misled
people. They said the air was safe. They made no effort to reach out
and share the dangers that people knew were in this air. And it
wasn't only people from New York who responded. It was people from all
over the country.
My colleague, Senator Voinovich from Ohio and I, have a bill that
would set up a system for the president to carry out a program for the
monitoring of the health and safety of first responders that are
exposed to harmful substances as a result of the disaster rather than
reacting on an ad hoc basis as we've had to do in the wake of 9/11.
Because of what I witnessed firsthand and what people started to tell
You know, the trademark World Trade Center cough appeared within days,
people had trouble breathing, had trouble swallowing, they were
coughing. That's why I was so insistent upon getting $12 million to
establish the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical
Screening Program at Mt. Sinai. We quickly realized they would need a
lot more work because thousands and thousands of people were signing
up and coming. So we secured an additional $90 million, and we
expanded the number of workers and volunteers, and that was in
addition to what we did for the fire department, which ran its own
Well, last week Mt. Sinai released a report that confirmed our worst
fears. It confirmed an earlier report of the New York City fire
department study. Tens of thousands of firefighters and all the
others who were there were not only exposed but were suffering from
significant medical and mental health problems. We are seeing young
men and women in the prime of their lives who were in excellent
physical health experiencing asthma, bronchitis, persistent sinus
sites, laryngitis. They are suffering from serious diseases, reactive
airway disease, their lungs are collapsing, their livers are polluted.
In fact, we are now seeing the first deaths. It is not enough to say
we stand with the brave men and women who responded when we needed
them. We have to do more.
We appropriated $125 million and after a year and a half of struggle,
money that was meant to go for the workers' comp system because so
many of these people cannot work anymore, they are on disability, they
are forced into retirement, and so many of them, about 40% of them,
were screened at Mt. Sinai had no insurance so they can't even get the
treatment which they now know they need. We have met with the
Secretary of Health and Human Services who has promised to get the
money released to begin treating these brave men and women. We have
worked with Dr. John Howard, the Director of NIOSH, who has documented
so many of the diseases and chronic conditions that we've seen. But we
have a long way to go, and we need to start now.
I can't give you an exact amount of money that it will take to take
care of these thousands of people. But we know it will be a lot more
than the $75 million we're waiting to be released on October 1. That's
why this amendment would authorize $1.9 million in grants to begin the
process of setting up the system, and over the next five years
implementing a system to take care of thousands of people who are
getting sick and who are dying.
We had a bipartisan, bicameral hearing in New York City last week.
One of the witnesses, Steve Centore, who was a federal employee, sat
before us, his skin yellowed from the diseasing of his liver, his
memory shot, his lungs collapsing and described in detail how his
government has let him down and left him behind. If we don't take care
of these people now and start putting up a system that we can have in
place for the next several years, we are going to betray a fundamental
responsibility to those whom we salute whenever it is convenient,
whenever it is political. But enough with that. They don't want our
speeches. They don't want our flowery rhetoric. They want our help.
My amendment uses rough estimates of about $5,800 per individual per
year to provide for the continuing monitoring, but more importantly,
the treatment of these individuals. These are the rough estimates, the
best we have right now from the fire department and Mt. Sinai, but we
already know that there are people on lung transplant lists who were
on that pile. We already know that people who have been disabled are
unable to work and therefore have no insurance any longer. We know
that there are those who have died because of these exposures.
Now, did everybody get sick? No. Will everybody who got sick die?
No. Much of it depends upon where you were, what you were exposed to,
what the intensity and the length of the exposure was. Some of it
also depends on your predisposition, your susceptibility, your genetic
But take the case of Detective James Zadroga, a 34-year-old detective
who joined the NYPD in 1992. He did not smoke. He had no known
history of asthma. He was an exemplary NYPD detective, the kind of
detective they make TV shows about. Someone with a shelf full of
commendations who put himself in harms way time and time again to
protect the people of the City of New York. Spend time with his
father Joseph, a retired police chief. You'll hear about the 450
hours that this decorated detective spent working on recovery efforts
on the pile at Ground Zero in 2001. Filled his lungs with fiberglass,
with pulverized concrete, with other toxic chemicals that destroyed
his lungs. The stress and strain of his deteriorating physical
condition was followed by the death of his wife, leaving him
responsible for his two-year-old daughter. He died on the floor of his
bedroom with his little girl trying to wake him up.
I know this is an authorization bill and I know that it doesn't
appropriate money but it does something equally important: it sets a
marker. It makes a statement. It takes all of the words and claims to
concern and puts them into action. It says that we're not only with
you in word and deed but we will not abandon you in your time of need.
If as we hear September 11 was a day that changed our nation forever,
and it's one that Americans will always remember, then let us not lose
sight of its lessons. Let us finally heed the recommendations of the
9/11 Commission by fully implementing them. Let us do everything we
can to make our bridges, our tunnels, our transit systems, our rail
lines, our entire infrastructure as safe as possible. But otherwise
we're going to have a lot of autopsy reports like we had for James
Zadroga and we're going to read about the death and disability of
thousands and thousands of our bravest, most courageous men and women.
And we're going to see construction workers who before 9/11 could lift
three times their body weight in steel and do whatever was necessary
to construct those sky scrapers bent over in pain unable to breathe
and sleep. I don't think that's what we want as our legacy as a
nation coming out of 9/11.
The country has been very supportive of New York, and I am extremely
grateful, but we were on the end of the spear when it came to
absorbing the attack and reacting. And now we have to continue to keep
faith with those who did our country proud in the hours, days, weeks
and months following that horrific attack on our nation.
Mr. president, I would ask for the consideration of this amendment to
honor those who honored us and to create a system to make sure that
they do not go without care, that they get the treatment they need,
that their life can be saved and prolonged, that we don't lose any
more 34-year-old detectives, who in the autopsy report, the
pathologist said, "it is felt with a reasonable degree of medical
certainty that the cause of death in this case was directly related to
the 9/11 incident." Let's not have any more victims of the terrorists.
Let's not let Bin Laden and Al Qaeda claim any more Americans who died
as a result of their evil attack on us. Let's band together and
support those who need us in their hour. And I hope, Mr. president,
that we can make such a statement with this amendment today.