Schumer Remarks After Republican Senator Blocked House-Passed 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Legislation

July 17, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today blasted Republican Senator Rand Paul’s objection to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) request for the Senate to pass the House-passed 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Legislation. In his remarks, Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put the bill, which passed the House of Representatives last week with more than 400 votes, on the floor for a vote immediately.

First, let me thank my friend, the Senator from New York, for the amazing work she has done to get this bill to this point. She has worked long and hard on this for years and years with compassion, with dedication, with intelligence, with persistence, and the bill wouldn’t be here without her hard work. So I thank her for that.

I also want to thank—I know there are police and firefighters in the gallery over here. I want to thank them for coming. You are the people who got this done. You are the people who made this happen. More than any of us. More than anyone else. The heroes of twenty-first century America have names like Zadroga and Pfeifer and Alvarez, for whom this bill is named. Three of the thousands who rushed to the towers and lost their lives because of their bravery and selflessness. I would say to my friend from Kentucky, throughout the history of America, when our young men and women—and older men and women—volunteered in the armed services and risked their lives for our freedom, we came back and gave them healthcare. And we’re still working on making it better. Why are these people any different?

They, too, risk their lives in a time of war, and were hurt by it, by diseases they didn't even know they could get. How can we, for whatever reason, stop this bill from moving forward? We're going to have a defense bill on appropriations on the floor. We're not going to offset it. It has pay raises for our soldiers. It has new equipment. We're not going to ask for an offset. Why this bill? Why is it different? It's not.

I'd say to Leader McConnell: the House leadership, hardly people who aren't careful with a dollar–sometimes too careful–Leader McCarthy and Whip Scalise, the Freedom Caucus leader, Mark Meadows, all voted for it. Why are we holding this bill up? If we put it on the floor today, we could pass it and be on the president's desk this week, and those brave people here and the many more who came would not have to come again. They should not have to come again.

It will not be a joyous day when this bill passes. They're going to have to return to nurturing their brothers and sisters who are sick and to worry if they might get sick from all the gunk that was in the air that poisoned their systems, their lungs, their digestive systems, their kidneys and their livers.

So the bottom line is very simple. You can come up with ten thousand reasons not to do something. But you shouldn't come up with any reason why not to do something noble and right. I would urge my friend from Kentucky to withdraw his objection. I would urge my friend, Senator McConnell, the Leader, to put it on the floor now. And we can let these folks in the gallery and so many others do what they need to do–help their families, help their friends, and make sure their health is given the best, best protection possible.

###