by Anders Hagstrom
The federal 9/11 victims fund expects to run out of the $7.3 billion in its coffers before compensating all of the Americans who suffered from the terror attack, NBC News reported Wednesday.
The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) announced its fear that the current budget couldn’t cover the tens of thousands of claims it has received, according to NBC. More than 32,000 people had made claims by the end of 2017, and more than 6,000 additional claims are expected. New York Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand joined with Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler, as well as Republican Rep. Peter King, in a statement Wednesday seeking an increased budget for the fund.
“As today’s notice shows, allowing this program to expire or and not fully funding the (fund) would be devastating for those with new claims and the undoubtedly high number of 9/11 first responders and survivors who have yet to be diagnosed with a Ground Zero-related illness,” the letter read. “It (allowing funds to run out) would send a cruel message that Congress is indifferent to our heroes’ suffering. Congress needs to fix this now before waiting until the last minute and putting our heroes through more suffering and anxiety over whether their federal government will stand with them in their time of need.”
The VCF gives grants to victims based on need, focusing on physical ailments of people who worked or lived around Ground Zero in the wake of the attack, as well as the mental and emotional trauma of those who lost family members.
“They spent months digging through the pile, bravely searching for remains, and inhaling dangerous, toxic air the entire time they were there,” the bipartisan group of New York legislators wrote. “Now, right when scientists predicted it would happen, cancer rates in the 9/11 first responder community are rising to new heights and the scourge of cancer continues to ruin the lives of first responders and survivors, some of whom have been fighting these diseases for years, and others who are newly diagnosed every year.”
Rupa Bhattacharyya, who heads the fund, clarified that no current claims are in danger of being ignored, saying that any potential shortage would affect only those claims made after Feb. 1, 2019. The fund won’t stop accepting claims until Dec. 18, 2020, and it had spent $4.3 billion of its budget as of the end of August.
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