The bill passed on a voice vote without opposition and now heads to the House floor for the full chamber to vote. The vote comes after the fund’s administrator announced awards for pending and future claims would have to be cut unless Congress acted.
“Every sick responder and survivor should be treated with the same dignity and compassion,” said House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York. “All responders and survivors, whether they got sick in 2015 or will get sick in 2025 or 2035, should be properly compensated. Congress must act to make that happen.”
The new bill would extend the expiration to 2090. It does not call for a specific amount of funds but whatever sums necessary through 2090.
The aftermath of the destruction from the 9/11 attacks has led to severe health impacts on first responders and recovery workers, including lung impairment and cancer, with thousands of death and injury claims.
Stewart said in the Judiciary subcommittee hearing that those not present at the hearing should be “ashamed,” and he told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux after that Congress needs to fund the aid “indefinitely for the lives of these men and women and not for five years.”
If the bill passes the House, it would also need to pass the the Senate. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday that “shamefully it has always been a struggle” for Congress to provide for the first responders’ health care as they get respiratory illnesses and cancers. “We are done with that,” he said, urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put the bill on the floor as soon as the House passes it.
At a news conference on Tuesday, McConnell said, “We’ve always dealt with that in the past in a compassionate way and I assume we will again.”
CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.