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Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Zadroga Act: 9/11, Republicans, and Hypocrisy

New York Fire Department badge - Zadroga Act


As I'm sure most, if not all, readers are aware, yesterday was the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. But do you know about the Zadroga Act?

I remember where I was when the planes hit the towers. I was living with my father in our family home at the time, not that far into stroke recovery and still trying to visualize what was going to come next in my life. I was in the kitchen, finishing up my breakfast, when I heard the news about the on the radio (always tuned to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in our house) about the plane hitting the first tower. I sat in shock for a moment, and then called Dad at his office and asked if he was listening to the radio. Did we know anyone that was supposed to be in New York today, that he knew of?

No, thank goodness.

When I heard the news about the second tower, I remembered the online mental health support community in which I'd been posting for a while. I quickly signed in, and found that there was already an "I'm okay" check-in going on from the New York area, and a call going to out to people who hadn't checked in yet. By the next day, all of the regular posters in the New York area were accounted for, but some of them had lost friends and family.

In other words, I was not really affected.

I will always be proud of how Canada helped take care of diverted passengers. But I remember being very annoyed at the CBC radio reporter who, during the 6pm news report on September 11, tried to interview a New Yorker who was obviously severely traumatized and likely had no clue no what he was saying.

"Sure, ask him how he's doing," I grumbled at the time. "I'm sure he's fabulous. I'm sure it's been a *great* day for him. Way to report, CBC."

And I remember the Jon Stewart segment from 2010 shaming a group of Republicans for filibustering the passage of the Zadroga Act in the Senate because I thought at the time, "Those fucking hypocrites."

What's the Zadroga Act?


You wouldn't know from watching the CBS news last night. They talked about it, but didn't mention it by name, as if the name of the Act that guarantees health care for the First Responders that develop one or more of the (in society as it's constructed today) disabling conditions and illnesses including 50 forms of cancer that are linked to working in the toxins at Ground Zero doesn't need a name. Or as if acknowledging the First Responders are still sick and dying after working at Ground Zero, fourteen years later, isn't important.

This is a list of what the Zadroga Act covered in 2010: interstitial lung diseases, chronic respiratory disorder, WTC-exacerbated COPD, asthma, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, chronic cough syndrome, upper airway hyperreactivity, chronic rhinosinusitis, chronic naropharyngitis, chronic laryngitis, GERD, sleep apnea, PTSD, major depressive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder NOS, depression NOS, acute stress disorder, dysthymic disorder, substance abuse, adjustment disorder, some musculoskeletal disorders. More conditions have been added (including, as I said, over 50 cancers.)

"Call the Act by it's name!" I yelled at the TV.

But What's the Zadroga Act?


The Zadroga Act is named for James Zadroga, a First Responder who died in 2006 of respiratory disease frequently observed in 9/11 First Responders.  It was passed by the House of Representatives in September 2010, and the Democrats hoped to get it through the the Senate before the Christmas Break. However, in December 2010, Senate Republicans filibustered the passage of the Act, trying to get a tax break package through. There was a motion to break the filibuster and proceed, but it failed with just 3 votes short of the 60 needed (breakdown of the vote here, including who voted which way), despite the Zadroga Act having enough support to get through the Senate. The Democrats investigated a number of options, but couldn't see any way that they could get the Zadroga Act through in the new year, with the Republicans set to take control of the House.

However, in the 11th hour of the 111th Congress, things turned around and the Zadroga Act was passed. The New York Post said:

"Certainly many supporters, including New York’s two senators, as well as Mayor Michael R.Bloomberg, played critical roles in turning around what looked like a hopeless situation after a filibuster by Republican senators on Dec. 10 seemed to derail the bill. But some of those who stand to benefit from the bill have no doubt about what — and who — turned the momentum around."

Jon Stewart refused to comment, but he will stand again with sick First Responders next week when he protests in Washington for it reauthorization. Because when the Zadroga Bill was passed in 2010, it was only for 5 years, it needs to be reauthorized by the end of the month, and Congress hasn't looked at it yet.

I couldn't find the entire 2010 Jon Stewart segment in one piece. Here's the early part of it, with him very annoyed.

The more serious part, with the First Responders, has been taken down since I posted this. But here are the points that I really like:

  • Shame on the Republicans for being happy to be the party that "turned 9/11 into a catchphrase" while ignoring the responsibility that they have to the people who need help because of the work they did to help America deal with the 9/11 aftermath. Don't talk about how grateful you are to "New York's Finest" unless you're prepared to back it up with your actions like providing them health care through legislation like the Zadroga Act.

  • News coverage. There was very little coverage of the struggle to get the Zadroga Act passed last time around, and if Jon Stewart hadn't stepped in again, I doubt we'd have heard much about it this time around. Granted, I've not been watching much news, but that little piece on CBS tonight was the first I'd heard of it without Jon Stewart's name attached to it.

The day after Stewart's show in 2010, Fox's Shepard Smith had this to say (trigger for vivid 9/11 imagery):





I think that pretty much says it all.

Visit Zadroga Claims Info  for more information about the Zadroga Act, and for an easy opportunity to email your Member of Congress expressing your support for extending it indefinitely.

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