As a result, many of them, including NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez, Officer James Zadroga and Firefighter Ray Pfeifer, contracted, battled and ultimately succumbed to 9/11-related cancer.
It goes without saying that all of them and their families deserved to be cared for by our country’s leaders.
Earlier this week, congressional sponsors of the bill to reauthorize the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund announced that the legislation will be named in honor of Pfeifer and Alvarez, two Queens natives who advocated for replenishing the VCF.
It’s a fitting tribute to American heroes who spent their last years on this earth fighting not just for themselves, but all of our first responders who sacrificed their health and well-being.
Now Congress needs to do the right thing. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill, which was unanimously passed out of committee.
According to reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell committed to a Senate vote in August. That’s welcome news.
At the June 11th hearing on the Victim Compensation Fund, Alvarez pleaded for McConnell to “look into your conscience.”
“If you pass it, I will die a happy man,” he said.
Alvarez then gave McConnell a copy of his NYPD shield as a “reminder of my legacy and yours.”
He died just weeks later.
While Congress has garnered a deserved reputation for constant partisan bickering and inaction, reauthorizing and replenishing the Victim Compensation Fund is a no-brainer.
It should be done in a bipartisan fashion. And it needs to be done immediately before we lose more of our heroes to cancer.