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Local Leaders Urging Reauthorization Of Zadroga Act

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Elected officials are calling for an extension of the law providing medical care and other benefits for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King joined Mayor Bill de Blasio in lower Manhattan to urge Congress to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

The bill's two critical programs providing medical treatment and compensation are set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016.

Local Leaders Urging Reauthorization Of 9/11 Health & Compensation Act

"We do not intend to wait another 10 years to reauthorize this," Maloney said. "We are calling for a 25-year extension."

Officials said many 9/11 responders and survivors are continuing to fall ill.

"People are running marathons who two or three years later can barely breathe, King said. "People today, you see them at their kid's little league games in wheelchairs. This is absolutely wrong. We have an obligation as Americans to provide them with the health care that they need, their families the compensation they need."

De Blasio said it is a moral imperative to help sick 9/11 first responders receive the help they need.

"Why is there a question about them getting what they deserve?" he told reporters, including WCBS 880's Marla Diamond. "There should be no question. This should not be a debate. This should be simply a march to action."

The bill, which covers 30,000 people, is named for James Zadroga, an NYPD officer who died of a 9/11-related illness.

His father, Joseph, said he suffered terribly.

"I can remember Jimmy couldn't walk up a flight of stairs," he told Diamond. "And a lot of these people nowadays, they can't walk up a flight of stairs, and they need that help. They need that help. They need to know that their family's taken care of."

As CBS 2's Dick Brennan reported, local lawmakers are concerned that they could face resistance in getting the bill passed.

"There are some elements of the Republican Party who see this as a New York bill, don't see the need for it. We overcame those arguments last time," King said.

Lawmakers said that they want to extend the bill to last 25 years, which would cover many people for a lifetime.

"When my father came home from World War II, when my wife's father came home from World War II they were gonna get the GI Bill. Why is there a question?" Mayor de Blasio said.

Meanwhile, Thursday, the 13th anniversary of the terror attacks, is the deadline for those who worked around the World Trade Center site to enroll with the state Workers' Compensation Board.

Public officials said even people who are not sick should register because it preserves their right to get benefits in the future if they do fall ill.

sixty-seven illnesses are covered by the Zadroga Act. Lawmakers said that more than 2,900 people have been diagnosed with cancers that were caused, or made worse by the aftermath of 9/11.

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