ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey’s U.S. senators teamed up Monday in calling for Congress to permanently reauthorize a health care law helping Sept. 11 first responders.

Parts of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which offers health screenings and financial aid to sick 9/11 first responders, have already expired. If nothing is done, the law, which covers 30,000 people, will completely lapse in late 2016.

“This reauthorization is a no-brainer,” Sen. Robert Mendendez, D-N.J., said Monday in Elizabeth, WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported.

“We’re a nation that stands behind each other when times are tough,” added Sen Cory Booker, D-N.J. “That’s what these first responders did.”

Now retired from the Camden County Fire Marshal’s Office, Gene Dannenfelser worked 13 tours at Ground Zero. Last year, he discovered he had lung cancer, which was directly linked to his work in the days following 9/11.

“I do have health insurance as a retired firefighter, but there’s out-of-pocket expenses that were not covered,” he said. Those costs would be in the thousands without the Zadroga Act, he said.

Republicans have been blamed for blocking reauthorization of the law, but last week Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said GOP members of the Energy and Commerce Committee have agreed that the Zadroga Act should be extended permanently. No vote in Congress has been scheduled.

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