Twelve Republican representatives in a letter dated Thursday urged the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee to prioritize a bill funding a program that provides medical care for survivors of and responders to the 9/11 attacks, in light of an “impending funding shortfall” the program is facing.
“As you are aware, the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) is facing an impending funding shortfall due to a rise in medical costs and cancer rates over the last three years,” the lawmakers wrote to Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.).
They continued, citing an article by the New York Daily News: “WTCHP is rapidly approaching a deficit in funding that will force the program to have to ratchet down spending and bar any new sick responders or survivors by October 2024.”
Thursday’s letter followed up on another letter sent by the same group of representatives in July asking for Pallone’s bipartisan cooperation on the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act.
The bill, H.R. 4965, would bolster the WTCHP, a federal program that monitors the health of survivors and provides them with care for health conditions related to the 2001 attacks.
It would also establish a research program to determine the effects of the attacks on those who were 21 years old or younger when they occurred.
“H.R. 4965 not only addresses the current funding shortfall directly, but also ensures adequate funding for years to come,” wrote the 12 Republicans.
The lawmakers called on Pallone to allow for a full committee markup of the bill during the upcoming legislative period.
“If Congress does not quickly address this impending crisis, then the men and women who put their lives on the line and who survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks will lose health coverage to treat the physical and mental illnesses that they sustained on that fateful day,” they wrote, noting that no action had been taken since the letter sent in July “despite broad bipartisan support and the looming funding deficit.”
The lawmakers who signed the letter are Reps. Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.), Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), John Katko (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Chris Jacobs (N.Y.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Dan Meuser (Pa.), David Joyce (Ohio), Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.) and Rodney Davis (Ill.).
“Congress has a responsibility to uphold our promises. We implore you not to turn a blind eye to the hardship 9/11 responders and survivors are facing and urge you to move this critical legislation forward without further delay,” they concluded.