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President Signs Sept. 11 First Responders Bill

HONOLULU (CBSNewYork/AP) -- President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill to provide aid to survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks and first responders who became ill working in the ruins at the World Trade Center.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was one of the last measures Congress passed before adjourning in December.

"We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers and first responders who risked their lives to save others," Obama said in a statement. "I believe this is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, among the lawmakers instrumental in the bill's passage, said all Americans "should be proud of this accomplishment."


1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon reports

"Today's victory is for the first responders, fire fighters, police officers, every family and every volunteer who never gave up and made sure that Congress fulfilled its duty to the 9/11 heroes," Gillibrand said in a statement.

The bill was named after NYPD police officer James Zadroga, who died of respiratory disease attributed to his exposure to toxins at Ground Zero.

"We're just glad that it's signed and it's going to help the survivors out there and that's what we set out to do five years ago," Zadroga's father, Joe Zadroga, told 1010 WINS.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney spoke with both 1010 WINS and WCBS 880 Sunday afternoon about signing.

"The president's signature has ended our nine-year struggle to address the 9/11 health crisis," she said.

Maloney said the the bill gives responders the "health care they so justly deserve."

"It also says to future generations, 'if you work at a time of need, that we will be there to help you,'" Maloney said.

Some Republicans were concerned with how to pay for the bill and they tried to block the measure. But they dropped their opposition after lawmakers struck a compromise to reduce the costs.

The $4.2 billion measure will be paid for with a fee on some foreign companies that get U.S. government procurement contracts

Obama signed the bill from Hawaii, where he's vacationing with his family.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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