It’s official: Republican Senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton, has agreed to sponsor The Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (S.546). The “Never Forget the Heroes Act,” if passed, would extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF) through 2090, rollback the recently announced 50-70% cuts in compensation to 9/11 victims, and allow the 9/11 VCF to return to paying 9/11 victims in full.
Senator Tom Cotton is now one of only three Senate Republicans to sponsor the Never Forget the Heroes Act. Out of fifty-one Republican Senators, only Senator Cotton, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) have agreed to sponsor the Never Forget the Heroes Act. The support of these Senators is notable and commendable, especially in light of the relatively small number of confirmed victims in their home states: Arkansas and Alaska are each home to less than 50 confirmed 9/11 victims and Colorado is home to less than 200 confirmed 9/11 victims. Despite the small number of constituents suffering from 9/11-related illnesses, these Senators found it wise to support the Never Forget the Heroes Act, which would rescue the 9/11 VCF from its current funding crisis and extend it through 2090.
These Senators serve as a sharp contrast to those from states with much larger numbers of confirmed 9/11 victims. For example, Florida has an estimated over 4,000 confirmed 9/11 victims, but neither Senator Marco Rubio (R) nor Senator Rick Scott (R) have agreed to sponsor the Never Forget the Heroes Act. Similarly, North Carolina is home to over 1,000 confirmed 9/11 victims, but neither Senator Richard Burr (R) or Senator Thom Tillis (R) have agreed to sponsor the Never Forget the Heroes Act. In Pennsylvania, where there are over 1,000 confirmed 9/11 victims, Senator Bob Casey (D) has agreed to sponsor the Never Forget the Heroes Act, while Senator Patrick Toomey (R) has not.
Senator Cotton is junior to Arkansas Senator John Boozman who has not yet agreed to sponsor the Never Forget the Heroes Act. Senator Cotton attended Harvard for both undergraduate studies and law school. After working at the prestigious firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher for three years after law school, Senator Cotton enlisted in the U.S. Army. During his military career, Senator Cotton rose to the rank of First Lieutenant, served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and received a Bronze Star for valor. Senator Cotton was elected to U.S. Senate at only 37 years-old.
The 9/11 attacks occurred while Senator Cotton was in his third year at Harvard Law School. According to Senator Cotton, it was on that morning that he vowed to serve as an infantryman in the U.S. Army. Senator Cotton later joined a generation of soldiers who enlisted in the military as a response to the attacks on 9/11.