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FDNY Commissioner 'Disgusted' By Congressional Delay On 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro says he's "disgusted and sickened" by how long it's taken Congress to reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

The House approved the bill last week, but a vote stalled in the Senate when Republican senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee raised concerns about the cost and oversight.

"I think they could've found some other place to take a stand, rather than on the backs of the people who sacrificed so much that day," Nigro said Friday. "I don't get it. I don't get the insensitivity that they showed. But they'll have to answer for that, not me."

Nigro spoke to reporters a day after the FDNY announced it lost its 200th member to a 9/11-related illness.

Retired Firefighter Richard Discroll had served the department for 32 years and was cited for bravery five times. He also served his country during the Vietnam War.

"It is almost incomprehensible that after losing 343 members on September 11, we have now had 200 more FDNY members die due to World Trade Center illness," Nigro said in a statement Thursday. "These heroes gave their lives bravely fighting to rescue and recover others. We will never forget them."

Retired Firefighter Kevin Nolan also died this week of cancer.

Nigro said there are more than 2,000 past and present members of the department with cancer and 10,000 with other forms of 9/11-related illnesses.

"It's a startling number from the World Trade Center attack almost 18 years ago that this many people are ill," he said Friday.

Despite the delay on Capitol Hill, the commissioner said he is hopeful the bill will be passed next week.

"I'm quite pleased I've learned that on Tuesday the Senate will vote and hopefully pass what's long overdue – aid for, not just the members of my department but, the tens of thousands of people in the NYPD, and Port Authority police, and construction workers and residents who were affected by the attack," he said.

The bill has been renamed in memory of retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez, who passed away last month, FDNY Firefighter Ray Pfeifer, who died in 2017, and NYPD Det. James Zadroga, who died in 2006.

"You said you would never forget, well I'm here to make sure you don't," Alvarez told lawmakers days before his death.

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