WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump signed into law Monday a bill to ensure funding until 2092 for a program established to aid victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
“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,” the president said during a signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when al-Qaeda terrorists flew two jetliners into the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center and a third plane into the Pentagon.
Besides assisting the families of the dead and wounded survivors, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund has made payouts to first responders and other people involved in the subsequent clean-up and recovery effort.
“The love and loyalty of our 9/11 responders knew no bounds.”They answered terror with the emotional strength of true American warriors,” Trump told a group of some 200 people who were affected by the attacks, including dozens of first responders.
Originally endowed with $7 billion and meant to expire in 2020, the Fund started running out of money as claims continued to come in from people whose symptoms only emerged years after they worked at Ground Zero.
Groups representing those suffering from chronic illnesses as a result of their time at the site have been asking Congress for years to extend the fund.
Comedian Jon Stewart took up their cause and joined a number of 9/11 first responders at a congressional hearing to demand that lawmakers act.
Within the days, the bill put forward on behalf of 9/11 victims passed unanimously in the House of Representatives. The Senate eventually approved the measure with only two dissenting votes.
People who worked at Ground Zero have developed cancer, respiratory and digestive problems, among other ailments, from exposure to dust, smoke and noxious substances.
Helping the 9/11 first responders is “a sacred duty,” Trump said Monday.