Without any fanfare, President Barack Obama signed the 9/11 health bill into law yesterday, releasing $4.2 billion in federal aid to help emergency responders who fell ill after working at Ground Zero.
A White House spokesman said Obama needed to sign the legislation in a timely manner, so he received it while on vacation in Hawaii. The law, which also covers those who lived near the World Trade Center following the attack, takes effect July 1.
A political compromise between its mostly Democratic supporters in Congress and some Republican opponents, who questioned its cost, led the final bill to be reduced last month by more than $3 billion. It also lasts for five years.
“After a long, arduous path with several near-defeats, this bill is finally law,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “The heroes who rushed to Ground Zero in the hours and days after the attacks will not be forgotten.”