Ground Zero at the World Trade Center site on Oct....

Ground Zero at the World Trade Center site on Oct. 18, 2001. Credit: Newsday File/Jiro Ose

WASHINGTON — The annual defense and national security bill released late Wednesday authorizes $676 million for the World Trade Center Health Program to cover rising costs and to extend services to those who responded on 9/11 at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

That funding is part of the $886 billion, 3,000-page 2024 National Defense Authorization Act negotiated by congressional leaders and Armed Services Committees’ chairs that left out the most controversial measures and included a 5.2% pay raise for service members.

The NDAA authorizes $444 million for the health program to address a shortfall in funding in fiscal year 2029 amid rising costs, and $232 million to allow responders at the Pentagon and Pennsylvania crash sites to enroll in the health program for the first time.

“Today, I locked in another $676 million dollars in the National Defense bill to make sure that all responders are covered for any health problems that may occur as a result of their sacrifice for us,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

“These funds will help sustain the health program for even longer as we work to make sure this program never runs out of the dollars it needs to ensure our Ground Zero heroes receive the treatments they need and the health care they deserve,” he said.

Both the House and the Senate aim to vote on the defense bill next week.

Lawmakers who helped push the bill forward included Schumer and bill sponsors Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport), who won the support of House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

“This $676 million in federal funding will help sustain the World Trade Center Health Program into the future and ensures Congress upholds its promise to care for our 9/11 first responders and survivors,” Gillibrand said.

“It will also allow unintentionally excluded active-duty military and DOD civilian Pentagon and Shanksville 9/11 responders to participate in the program,” she said.

Earlier this year, the Senate voted 94-4 to include the Gillibrand amendment adding the WTC Health Program funding to the defense bill. The House, though, did not include that funding in its version of the bill.

But in the conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions, the four congressional leaders and top members of the Armed Services committees retained the Senate’s funding for the WTC Program in the final version of the bill.

Benjamin Chevat, executive director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, credited Garbarino for securing Johnson's support to keep the funding in the NDAA.

“It's a big win to get this finalized in the NDAA,” Garbarino told Newsday, crediting Johnson. “His father was a disabled fireman. So, this was personal for him.”

“We spoke quite a bit. We spoke all of Thanksgiving week,” Garbarino said of Johnson. “We were touching base every day, and his team and my team were speaking several times a day.”

Reps. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) and Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) also called Johnson to urge him to keep the funding.

By keeping Johnson at the table, Garbarino gave Schumer the time to resolve issues over the funding.

“Today’s action, along with the effort last December to add a billion dollars to the program, are important steps forward and will push back for several years any potential cuts in services to the over-125,000 9/11 responders and survivors in the program who are in every State and in 434 out of 435 Congressional Districts,” Chevat said.

WASHINGTON — The annual defense and national security bill released late Wednesday authorizes $676 million for the World Trade Center Health Program to cover rising costs and to extend services to those who responded on 9/11 at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

That funding is part of the $886 billion, 3,000-page 2024 National Defense Authorization Act negotiated by congressional leaders and Armed Services Committees’ chairs that left out the most controversial measures and included a 5.2% pay raise for service members.

The NDAA authorizes $444 million for the health program to address a shortfall in funding in fiscal year 2029 amid rising costs, and $232 million to allow responders at the Pentagon and Pennsylvania crash sites to enroll in the health program for the first time.

“Today, I locked in another $676 million dollars in the National Defense bill to make sure that all responders are covered for any health problems that may occur as a result of their sacrifice for us,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

“These funds will help sustain the health program for even longer as we work to make sure this program never runs out of the dollars it needs to ensure our Ground Zero heroes receive the treatments they need and the health care they deserve,” he said.

Both the House and the Senate aim to vote on the defense bill next week.

Lawmakers who helped push the bill forward included Schumer and bill sponsors Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport), who won the support of House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

“This $676 million in federal funding will help sustain the World Trade Center Health Program into the future and ensures Congress upholds its promise to care for our 9/11 first responders and survivors,” Gillibrand said.

“It will also allow unintentionally excluded active-duty military and DOD civilian Pentagon and Shanksville 9/11 responders to participate in the program,” she said.

Earlier this year, the Senate voted 94-4 to include the Gillibrand amendment adding the WTC Health Program funding to the defense bill. The House, though, did not include that funding in its version of the bill.

But in the conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions, the four congressional leaders and top members of the Armed Services committees retained the Senate’s funding for the WTC Program in the final version of the bill.

Benjamin Chevat, executive director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, credited Garbarino for securing Johnson's support to keep the funding in the NDAA.

“It's a big win to get this finalized in the NDAA,” Garbarino told Newsday, crediting Johnson. “His father was a disabled fireman. So, this was personal for him.”

“We spoke quite a bit. We spoke all of Thanksgiving week,” Garbarino said of Johnson. “We were touching base every day, and his team and my team were speaking several times a day.”

Reps. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) and Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) also called Johnson to urge him to keep the funding.

By keeping Johnson at the table, Garbarino gave Schumer the time to resolve issues over the funding.

“Today’s action, along with the effort last December to add a billion dollars to the program, are important steps forward and will push back for several years any potential cuts in services to the over-125,000 9/11 responders and survivors in the program who are in every State and in 434 out of 435 Congressional Districts,” Chevat said.

Nassau gun permits … Roslyn bank renamed … What's up on Long Island Credit: Newsday

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Nassau gun permits … Roslyn bank renamed … What's up on Long Island Credit: Newsday

Mysterious green light in Albany ... Nassau gun permits ... LI home sales rise ... Boxing bus driver

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