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Michael Vadon

Rand Paul Blocks 9/11 Victims Fund Bill

The Senator is blocking a vote to provide help to the victims of the worst terrorist attack in US history

Brian Young's picture
Jul 18, 2019

Nearly 18 years after the 9/11 attacks, over 50,0000 first responders and construction workers are still dealing with the health effects of the attack. To help these men and women deal with the health costs, the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund was re-opened and has paid out $5 Billion since 2011 to help them deal with often life-threatening conditions like cancer.

Unfortunately, every year seems to bring more and more cases and the fund is in danger of running out of money. In June, New York unions like the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA-NYC) and the NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) headed to Washington to lobby Congress on renewing the funds. The House voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill that would ensure that fund had enough money to pay out benefits through 2099.

While this would seem like an easy vote two Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee have decided to hold up the progress. When the bill was introduced in the Senate, leaders tried to pass it by consent, basically asking if anyone objected. If no one objects it goes through without debate or amendments. However, Paul and Lee decided that the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund was the perfect time to complain that the United States has a debt problem. Paul said that while he doesn’t oppose the bill, he wants to play politics with the bill and add an amendment to it.

Needless to say, advocates were not happy with this power play by Paul. Comedian Jon Stewart, who has been a leading voice in the effort to pass the bill, went on Trump’s favorite “news” channel, Fox News, to blast Paul.

Comedian Jon Stewart, an outspoken advocate for 9/11 first responders, blasted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for his objection Wednesday to a bipartisan bill to ensure a compensation fund for victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks never runs out of money.

Speaking to Fox News host Bret Baier on Wednesday, Stewart called Paul's objection to the bill, which the libertarian-aligned senator said should be offset by spending cuts,  "outrageous" and "an abomination."

"Pardon me if I’m not impressed in any way by Rand Paul’s fiscal responsibility virtue signaling," Stewart said, noting that Paul supported President Donald Trump's tax cut that "added hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit." He accused Paul of trying to “balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community.”

Lee defended his position through a statement from a spokesperson saying that he was concerned about fraud and abuse in the program and wants to cap payouts over the next ten years.

While Paul and Lee claim to be worried about the long term cost of the bill, they know full well that the reality is that no one currently in the fund will be alive in 72 years. The sad fact is that these first responders are dying now and need the help now. Just in the last month one of the lead advocates for the bill, Luis Alvarez, passed away.

The simple fact is that Paul is just being the annoying little weasel that he has always been. Paul is the same person who has introduced a National Right to Work law, said that states should not require parents to vaccinate their children and once equated healthcare to slavery. There are things to play politics on and to take a stand against. The bi-partisan 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Bill is not one of those things.

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