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Trump signs 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund bill into law for first responders


President Donald Trump on Monday signed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Bill into law to provide health care facilities to the police officers, firefighters and other first responders to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The President was joined by more than 200 individuals affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including more than 60 first responders, at the White House Rose Garden ceremony, CNN reported.
"Today we come together as one nation to support our September 11th heroes to care for their families and to renew our eternal vow -- never ever forget," Trump said, calling the fund's extension "a sacred duty".
"The love and loyalty of our 9/11 responders knew no bounds. They answered terror with the emotional strength of true American warriors," he added.
Trump told the crowd of 9/11 first responders and their families that he was also at Ground Zero in the wake of the terror attacks, though he said he does not consider himself to be a first responder.
"I was down there also, but I'm not considering myself a first responder," Trump said.
"But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you," he added.
Trump's signature marked the end of a 15-year fight to get the government to permanently pay claims to first responders and other victims who were sickened by the toxic fumes in the days and weeks following the September 11 terror attacks.
It came after powerful testimony in mid-June from first responder Luis Alvarez, an NYPD detective who contracted cancer.
Alvarez came to Washington before his 69th round of chemotherapy and spoke at a poorly attended congressional hearing, leading to former "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart's viral shaming of lawmakers that upped public support for the bill.
Alvarez died in late June but gave his police badge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, inspiring the Kentucky Republican to commit to passing the bill by August.
The bill cleared the House of Representatives on July 12, The New York Post reported.
The extension of the fund will ensure compensation for individuals injured during the 2001 terrorist attacks and in their aftermath rescuing people and removing debris under hazardous conditions.
The fund was slated to expire in 2020. But the newly signed legislation ensures the compensation for victims through 2090.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the fund's extension will cost about USD 10 billion over the next decade.
However, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Mike Lee of Utah were the only senators to vote against the bill.

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First Published: Jul 30 2019 | 4:10 AM IST

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