Watch CBS News

Jon Stewart, Zadroga Act Supporters Head To DC To Push For Renewal

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) -- Retired New York City firefighter Ray Pfeifer worked on the pile at Ground Zero. Now he's working to stay alive, living with advanced kidney cancer since 2009.

"I am the luckiest Stage 4 cancer guy out there," he said. "I can't complain. I have 14 more years than my friends did."

As CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported, Pfeifer is one of more than 72,000 people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical monitoring and treatment for sick 9/11 first responders, workers and residents.

Union, Supporters Head To DC To Push For Renewal Of Zadroga 9/11 Law

The program is part of the 2010 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, but that law will start expiring next month if Congress does nothing .

"It would be a big struggle," Pfeifer said. "People are going to die if we don't have this bill passed."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., has introduced legislation to make the Zadroga Act permanent, but no vote has been scheduled.

"Just now, people are coming out with cancers," Maloney told reporters, including WCBS 880's Jim Smith, on Monday. "Many have been diagnosed. Many are being monitored."

The Uniformed Fire Officers Association is heading to Washington to rally and lobby lawmakers Wednesday -- this time bringing a big supporter, former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart.

Headlined By Jon Stewart, Zadroga Act Supporters Head To DC To Push For Renewal

"I would think that some of them, they're going to be shaking in their boots knowing that Jon Stewart is coming down and going to put a spotlight on them," said Richard Alles, the union's legislative director.

In 2010, Stewart had four 9/11 heroes on his show to help explain why the Zadroga Act was important. Maloney said it was the push the bill needed.

"He made people laugh, he made people cry," Maloney told reporters, including 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon. "He showed senators thanking police, firefighters, others who worked on the pile for risking their lives and then going to the floor and being a blockade."

Two of the men who appeared on Stewart's show five years ago have since died, Alles said.

In all, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association expects to have a few hundred supporters on hand in Washington, including first responders from other states.

Last time around, opponents expressed concerns about the Zadroga Act, especially about the price tag and potential for abuse.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said those concerns are unfounded, especially when people continue to die.

Last week, the FDNY added 21 more names to a memorial wall of people who died from 9/11-related illnesses.

"Just like you can't leave soldiers in the battlefield, we can't leave these civilians behind," King said.

Maloney's office said it does not have a cost estimate yet on the new bill from the Congressional Budget Office. The 2010 bill had a $4 billion price tag.

Alles said if the law is not renewed, health care will begin to be phased out next month and be completely eliminated by October 2016.

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.