Watch CBS News

9/11 Responders: GOP Resistance To Permanent Zadroga Act Is 'Un-American'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- 9/11 survivors are calling out a group of lawmakers backing a new bill that would undermine the effort to revive the expiring Zadroga Act helping sick first responders.

As 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon reported, Michael Larko, a supervisor in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, is battling mental and physical illnesses from his days working in the toxic dust at Ground Zero and counts on the covered health care and medicine.

"I cannot believe this other proposal came out to short-change the 9/11 health care programs," he said. "It's un-American."

New York's members of Congress said they were gaining bipartisan support for a bill making the Zadroga Act permanent before a proposal by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, surfaced. It would renew the law for five years and cut it by 60 percent.

"On the day that they (Republicans) swore in the new speaker, they introduced another bill -- a bill that would gut and kill the program," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said at the World Trade Center on Monday. "That is no way to treat our heroes."

John Feal of the Feal Good Foundation for 9/11 first responders had some choice words for Goodlatte.

"Congressman Goodlatte, you're an (expletive)," he said. "I've been to 148 funerals. I have the right to say that! And on Nov. 17, when I bring 9/11 responders to D.C., we're going to get this bill passed!"

Parts of the Zadroga Act, which covers 30,000 people, have already expired.

"Why did the Republicans suddently throw an alternative bill in our way? Because there are enough votes to pass this bill," said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y. "They don't want this bill to pass so they've come up with their own product, which they know is never going to pass the Congress, never be signed by the president. I think that that's dishonest.

And since Republicans control the House, they decide which bill gets debated.

If nothing is done, the Zadroga Act will completely expire in late 2016.

"I have Stage 4 cancer," said Ray Pfeifer, a firefighter on 9/11. "It's not going away in five years. There's 70,000 people that their illnesses are not going away in five years."

"One of the chemo pills that I had to take was $9,000," the father of two told CBS2's Dick Brennan. "So do I pay for this $9,000 pill out of my pocket, which I did have health care, but it didn't cover it? Or do I put a roof over my kids' head, feed them? What do you do??

Mayor Bill de Blasio said, too, on Monday the law needs to be permanent and provide full funding, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

"The new bill in Congress simply doesn't go far enough," de Blasio said.

He blames the holdup on blatant partisanship.

"The health of our nation's heroes must not be sacrificed on the altar of politics, and that's what's going on here," the mayor said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.