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Report: Federal budget "sequester" threatens 9/11 health funds
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act faces cuts of $38-million in 2013 and as much as $300 million during the life of the program if Congress does not act to avoid the "sequester" that slashes federal spending, according to a new report by Huffington Post's Michael McAuliff.
In August 2011 lawmakers in Congress in a bipartisan vote passed the "sequester" that would force $1.2 trillion in cuts over a decade, split between defense and domestic spending, as a kind of "gun to the head" to force them to reach a federal spending deal to cut the budget over time. It was never meant to actually go into effect.
Fearing that it might, Democrats pushed hard to limit the impact on Medicare and exempted federal spending on veterans.
But as McAuliff notes, the Republicans and Democrats who said they would never forget the first responders and others whose health was harmed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and elsewhere apparently forgot them in shaping the sequester deal.
The article quotes John Feal, a construction worker who founded the FealGood Foundation advocacy group after losing half his foot at Ground Zero in the cleanup.
"This is just another slap in the face from Washington, D.C.," Feal said. "Last week, Republicans and Democrats talked about remembering 9/11 and unity all across the nation, and all that patriotic stuff, and now we're getting this thrown on our lap."
For the White House report on what would be cut, and what would be exempt, from the sequester, go here.
John Feal issued the following statement:
Statement from the FealGood Foundation regarding possible sequester of the Zadroga Bill
Today, as reported in the Huffington Post, the FealGood Foundation has learned the James Zadroga 9/11 Healthcare & Compensation Act is at risk of having its budget cut in coming months under the sequester legislation passed by Congress in 2011. This potential budgetary loss is completely unacceptable and the FealGood Foundation vows to stand alongside all WTC First Responders to fight against this proposal. As FGF members, union leaders and First Responder advocates walked the halls of Congress only two (2) years ago urging members of Congress to enact the Zadroga Act, legislative members demanded that we ensure funding for the Zadroga program in cohesion with Congress’ requirement that all new legislation not add to the federal deficit. Our New York Congressional Leaders developed this funding stream and actually reduces the federal deficit. For Congressional leaders to now potentially raid that funding flies in the face of reason. It is our sincere hope that the Zadroga Act budget will not be cut buy sequesters legislation.