The Senate finally passed a reauthorization of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund after amendments from two senators who had previously blocked the bill failed on the floor.
The final vote was 97-2, with Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) voting against the funds for first responders.
The House of Representatives already voted 402-12 to pass the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act,” sending it to the upper chamber. The bill extends the fund, which is set to expire next year, through 2092.
Paul blocked an attempt Wednesday by Senate Democrats today to move forward the reauthorization, arguing that the deficit is too large and the program needs to be paid for. Lee placed a procedural hold on the bill, preventing it from coming to the floor for a vote; he struck a deal with leaders Thursday to allow a vote on his amendment that would only fund it for the next 10 years.
Paul offered an amendment to require offsets, cutting from elsewhere to pay for the 9/11 fund. Lee offered his 10-year amendment. Both failed.
The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk with veto-proof majorities. He is expected to sign the bill Friday.
Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, a fierce advocate for 9/11 first responders, said at a press conference with lawmakers sponsors and first responders after the vote that he hopes “today the 9/11 community begins the process of healing without having to advocate.”
Awesome moment: Jon Stewart embraces a crying John Feal, the 9/11 first responder who led the organization pushing for the full extension of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, just after the bill passed in the Senate 97-2: pic.twitter.com/ombosZSxr0
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) July 23, 2019