WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) – A group of 9/11 first responders and their supporters will hold a rally Monday in Washington, D.C.
As many as 60,000 first responders and survivors were injured or continue to deal with chronic illnesses.
A bipartisan bill being unveiled Monday would continue payouts for treatment for them. Without it, there could be drastic cuts.
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Retired NYPD Det. Glen Klein continues to be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, respirator and esophageal diseases after spending more than 800 hours at Ground Zero.
"We climbed through these piles every day, and we would climb in as deep as we can to look for victims," he told CBS2.
Klein relies on the victims' compensation fund, which helps offset his medical costs. But the fund has been overwhelmed with claims. Payouts may soon be cut as much as 70 percent.
"American people who stepped up and went above and beyond on 9/11 and after have to struggle to pay their medical bills – it's just inconceivable," said Klein.
John Feal, a demolition expert who was injured while working at Ground Zero, will be in Washington, D.C., standing side by side with first responders during the rally.
"These cancers that we've contracted from 9/11, they have no expiration date," he said. "So Congress cannot continue to put deadlines on legislation. It's just an insult to those who are deathly ill."
A bipartisan coalition of New York congressional representatives, including Rep. Peter King, will be introducing legislation that would ensure the fund in replenished and will continue offering payouts for current beneficiaries and those who may become ill in the future.
"This is a federal issue. The federal government's obligation is to protect us," King said. "This was an attack from outside our borders."
King has called it a national emergency, and first responders agree, saying the fund should never run out.
"With every day that passes in the near-18 years since September 11, 2001, these terrorist are still attacking our first responders and claiming victims," said George Fitzgerald, FDNY-UFA union president.
Monday's rally is set to start at 2:30 p.m.
For more information on the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund or to file a claim, click here.
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