9/11 first responders lobby to replenish Victims Compensations Fund

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK -

Sept. 11 first responders are lobbying lawmakers in Washington to replenish the Victims Compensation Fund, which is running out of money. 

In the years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, thousands have become ill and many have lost their lives due to exposure from toxins working on the pile of debris.

On Monday, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. called the passage of the bill a moral obligation.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are urging Congress to act now as thousands face dramatically reduced compensation. They want to introduce a bipartisan bill designed to ensure the VCF is fully funded -- even for those who may become ill in the future.

Earlier this month, the special master who runs the VCF announced plans to cut payouts by between 50 percent and 70 percent to ensure all are paid.  Lawmakers say they don't want that to happen.

The program has used roughly $5 billion of the fund's $7 billion budget to pay thousands of claims. There are about 20,000 claims still pending.

Terence Opiola, of New City, was in D.C. Monday alongside lawmakers. Opiola was a federal agent, forced to retire after being diagnosed with eight chronic illnesses and leukemia.

The fund is set to expire in 2020.

 
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