Nassau's and Suffolk's county executives Edward Mangano and Steve Bellone were among the Long Island officials who joined a bipartisan, nationwide coalition Monday urging U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the James Zadroga 9/11 Act's health and compensation programs for first responders.
"This is an issue of national significance that strikes at the heart of our national psyche and has a direct and immediate impact on thousands of our residents," reads a letter signed by 27 mayors and local leaders. It continues: "Our first responders were there for us on 9/11 -- we must be there for them now."
Lawmakers have said the GOP proposal knocks down funding by $456 million. GOP House members this month proposed bills limiting reauthorization of the act to another five-year-term -- legislation opposed by the New York House and Senate members.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of New York City's congressional delegation at a City Hall news conference called on Ryan (R-Wis.) to act to protect the firefighters, police officers, construction workers and volunteers exposed to deadly toxins and carcinogens at Ground Zero. The victims' compensation fund expires on Oct. 1, 2016, and the World Trade Center health program recently expired on Oct. 1.
Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck directed inquires to the office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) because the majority leader sets the floor schedule. McCarthy spokesman Matt Sparks did not return a request for comment.
" 'Never forget' is more than a slogan, more than a bumper sticker. It is a sacred promise," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) said at the event at City Hall. She said the law, which has the support of 247 House members, would be renewed if it was brought to a floor vote now. She lauded support of the act by Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who was not at the news conference.
Aside from Republican Mangano and Democrat Bellone, four Long Island town supervisors and supervisors-elect have signed the letter that also includes the mayors of Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston.
With Tom Brune