Today, Senator and 2020 Presidential Candidate Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) made a motion to vote on the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act, of which she is a named introductory sponsor.
Unfortunately, two Senators blocked the vote: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), further delaying health and compensation benefits for 9/11 responders and victims.
Senator Rand Paul stated “I reserve the right to object. It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country — we have a $22 trillion debt, [and] we’re adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year — and therefore any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that’s going to have longevity of 70, 80 years, should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable.”
In the face of firefighters camped outside his office today, Senator Lee’s representative released the following statement: “Sen. Lee is seeking a vote to ensure the fund has the proper oversight in place to prevent fraud and abuse,” said the spokesperson.
Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Rupa Bhattacharyya, already testified by the House Judiciary Committee, prior to a 402-12 House vote, explaining that the VCF “has a robust system of standards and procedures in place to prevent fraud” including verifying key information with various third parties, “multiple internal checks” to search for potential indicators of fraud, “FBI background checks for every individual receiving a VCF payment” and a “strong partnership with the Department’s Office of the Inspector General.” She then stated: “the VCF under the Zadroga Act has not documented any instance of fraud in a paid claim.”