July 30, 2010

Heckenlively: Ryan, GOP vote against helping 9/11 first-responders

Yesterday, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) joined with 154 other House Republicans in voting against helping the brave men and women who cleaned up the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act failed on a two-thirds vote, denying compensation and medical benefits to thousands of first responders who worked at Ground Zero.

Democrats voted for the bill, 243-4, while Republicans voted against it 155-12. The bill by New York Representative Carolyn Maloney would have created a World Trade Center Health Care program within the National Institutes of Health to provide health monitoring and treatment of first responders and cleanup workers who responded to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The cleanup of Ground Zero exposed rescue and construction workers to numerous toxic chemicals, leaving many with chronic respiratory illnesses and others with cancer. Over 800 World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers have died since 9/11. Zadroga, a New York City police detective, was the first NYPD officer whose death was attributable to exposure to toxic chemicals at Ground Zero. He died January 5, 2006.

On September 12, 2001, Rep. Paul Ryan (D-Janesville) stated: "In searching for this hope, amid the sorrow, we need only turn to the firefighters, police officers, medics, and rescue workers who have put their lives on hold -- and often in mortal danger -- to respond to this crisis. Their courage, determination, and action are examples for us all." Sadly, nine years later, Ryan and his Republican colleagues provide an example of how not to treat our fellow citizens.

"The men and women who responded to the World Trade Center crisis did so knowing they were placing their health and safety at risk. This country owes them a debt that cannot be repaid. The least we can do is
provide them with medical treatment." said John Heckenlively, Democratic candidate for Congress. "These men and women were there for this nation in its hour of need. We should be there for them now that they need us."