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House Speaker Paul Ryan reaffirms commitment to passing Zadroga 9/11 extension

House Speaker Paul Ryan calls on a reporter

House Speaker Paul Ryan calls on a reporter during a news briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 19, 2015. Credit: AP / Jacquelyn Martin

House Speaker Paul Ryan made it "crystal clear" that he is committed to passing an extension of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act this year in a meeting Monday evening with four New York Republican congressmen, according to Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).

Zeldin said Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed his commitment in a House chamber meeting with him and Reps. Peter King of Seaford, Chris Gibson of Kinderhook and Dan Donovan of Staten Island on the lawmakers' first day back from the Thanksgiving recess.

Ryan's conversation with the New Yorkers confirmed and appeared to strengthen his statement a few weeks ago that he expected the Zadroga extension to pass this year.

Congress has three weeks left this year before it recesses again for its winter break, and it has several other major pieces of legislation it must tend to, including a measure to pay for government operations by Dec. 11 when short-term funding runs out.

A big issue for passing a permanent extension of the Zadroga Act this year, Ryan said, is figuring out a way to pay for it. Estimates of the costs of the act's World Trade Center Health program and victims compensation fund range from $5 billion to $11 billion.

The health program expired at the end of September but has sufficient money to last into next year. The victims' compensation fund expires on Oct. 1, 2016.

New York lawmakers who support the renewal of Zadroga have been working on a way to pay for it, as well as strategies on how to get it passed in both the House and the Senate.

Activists and aides say the Zadroga extension very well could be added to another piece of legislation to get it passed, such as a bill to extend tax measures or the omnibus spending bill.

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