Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leaves a meeting with fellow...

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leaves a meeting with fellow Republicans Wednesday.

Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

WASHINGTON — The Senate was moving toward an expected vote Thursday on an amendment to add $1 billion to the omnibus spending bill to cover a World Trade Center Health Program funding shortfall after negotiators unexpectedly left out the original $3.6 billion measure.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand negotiated a deal with Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) to salvage funding to cover the program’s shortfalls for five years, less than the original measure.

The amendment containing $1 billion for the 9/11 health program is one of 14 expected to be considered and voted on Thursday as the Senate takes up the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill to fund the federal government through the fiscal year ending Oct. 1, 2023.

Negotiations over the omnibus dragged late into the night Wednesday, pushing the possibility of a Senate vote on amendments and final passage into Thursday or even Friday.

The Senate had planned votes on amendments Wednesday night, including Gillibrand's, but still were working on amendments Thursday afternoon.

If the Senate does pass it, the House must vote on the omnibus by midnight Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown. 

“Our staff have been in negotiation with McConnell’s staff all day,” Gillibrand told Newsday, “and we now have a consensus on funding the most urgent piece of the bill that needs to be funded to shore up the program through 2027.”

Without the addition of the funding, the World Trade Center Health Program would have had to start cutting back on services in October 2024.

Gillibrand said she is confident that with McConnell's support the amendment will pass. McConnell did not respond to a request to his press office for comment.

The amendment containing the funding will also include money for research on the impact of 9/11 toxins on children throughout their lives, Gillibrand said.

But it will not extend the benefits of the World Trade Center Health Program, created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010 and extended in 2015 to 2090, to the responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon.

The original $3.6 billion measure was introduced in August 2021 by Gillibrand and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) to cover a projected $3 billion shortfall caused by inflation and greater participation than projected in the World Trade Center Health Program.

That measure included $514 million to enroll responders and survivors of the attacks on the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and $46 million for a study of the impacts of the New York City attack on the estimated 35,000 people who were children at the time.

Passing this partial funding, Gillibrand said, “gives us all the next Congress to finish the rest of it, which I'm optimistic about.”

She said she’s part of a bipartisan group that includes Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) in the House and Schumer and others in a coalition in the Senate.

But that means the injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors will once again have to walk the halls of Congress to lobby lawmakers for badly needed support to address the long-lasting effects of the devastating terrorist attack two decades ago, 9/11 advocates said.

Ben Chevat, executive director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, told Newsday that “we had hoped that the legislation would have contained the elements of the senators' earlier effort” to include the $3.6 billion measure in the omnibus.

But he said he was grateful Gillibrand and Schumer were able to add the partial funding.

“With the new Congress, Citizens for the Extension is looking forward to working with Senator Gillibrand and Representative Garbarino to complete the work started this year and get a permanent fix to the funding problems in the program passed by the Congress before any cuts in services can be imposed,” Chevat said. 

WASHINGTON — The Senate was moving toward an expected vote Thursday on an amendment to add $1 billion to the omnibus spending bill to cover a World Trade Center Health Program funding shortfall after negotiators unexpectedly left out the original $3.6 billion measure.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand negotiated a deal with Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) to salvage funding to cover the program’s shortfalls for five years, less than the original measure.

The amendment containing $1 billion for the 9/11 health program is one of 14 expected to be considered and voted on Thursday as the Senate takes up the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill to fund the federal government through the fiscal year ending Oct. 1, 2023.

Negotiations over the omnibus dragged late into the night Wednesday, pushing the possibility of a Senate vote on amendments and final passage into Thursday or even Friday.

The Senate had planned votes on amendments Wednesday night, including Gillibrand's, but still were working on amendments Thursday afternoon.

If the Senate does pass it, the House must vote on the omnibus by midnight Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown. 

“Our staff have been in negotiation with McConnell’s staff all day,” Gillibrand told Newsday, “and we now have a consensus on funding the most urgent piece of the bill that needs to be funded to shore up the program through 2027.”

Without the addition of the funding, the World Trade Center Health Program would have had to start cutting back on services in October 2024.

Gillibrand said she is confident that with McConnell's support the amendment will pass. McConnell did not respond to a request to his press office for comment.

The amendment containing the funding will also include money for research on the impact of 9/11 toxins on children throughout their lives, Gillibrand said.

But it will not extend the benefits of the World Trade Center Health Program, created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010 and extended in 2015 to 2090, to the responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon.

The original $3.6 billion measure was introduced in August 2021 by Gillibrand and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) to cover a projected $3 billion shortfall caused by inflation and greater participation than projected in the World Trade Center Health Program.

That measure included $514 million to enroll responders and survivors of the attacks on the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and $46 million for a study of the impacts of the New York City attack on the estimated 35,000 people who were children at the time.

Passing this partial funding, Gillibrand said, “gives us all the next Congress to finish the rest of it, which I'm optimistic about.”

She said she’s part of a bipartisan group that includes Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) in the House and Schumer and others in a coalition in the Senate.

But that means the injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors will once again have to walk the halls of Congress to lobby lawmakers for badly needed support to address the long-lasting effects of the devastating terrorist attack two decades ago, 9/11 advocates said.

Ben Chevat, executive director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, told Newsday that “we had hoped that the legislation would have contained the elements of the senators' earlier effort” to include the $3.6 billion measure in the omnibus.

But he said he was grateful Gillibrand and Schumer were able to add the partial funding.

“With the new Congress, Citizens for the Extension is looking forward to working with Senator Gillibrand and Representative Garbarino to complete the work started this year and get a permanent fix to the funding problems in the program passed by the Congress before any cuts in services can be imposed,” Chevat said. 

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