Fairfax County first responders search through debris outside the Pentagon following the attack on 9/11. (FBI photo)

Senate Passes 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for Next 73 Years, with Two Objections

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.”

“For tens of thousands of people that are waiting to hear the outcome of this, my heart bleeds with joy, knowing that so many people are going to get help,” 9/11 first responder John Feal told CNN. “Everything we asked for, we got.”

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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