NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for an extension of the 9/11 Zadroga Act.

The Zadroga Act provides medical treatment and compensation for first responders who developed illnesses as a result of their work at Ground Zero.

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Parts of the act are set to expire this year and in 2016.

Gillibrand says we can’t let that happen. She says Congress has a moral obligation to continue to provide care and compensation to survivors and their families.

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“Our first responders answered the call of duty when our nation was under attack, and deserve to be treated by Congress as the veterans they really are,” said Gillibrand. “We cannot abandon the men and women who now suffer as a result of their sacrifice, and must pass a permanent extension of the programs they rely upon. These heroes should not have to walk the halls of the Capitol to beg for the benefits they have earned, and I will proudly walk with them until we secure the health and compensation programs they deserve.”

Gillibrand was joined by some first responders at a news conference on Staten Island calling for the Zadroga Act to be extended indefinitely.

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“I think the biggest thing we fight against in Washington is a lack of empathy, and a lack of urgency,” Gillibrand said.