WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) – The House has passed the Never Forget the Heroes Act, a bill to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund until 2090.
The vote passed 402-12 on Friday.
The $7.4 billion Congress approved for the fund in 2015 has nearly run out, forcing the funds administrator to slash payouts to 9/11 heroes, survivors and their families.
Comedian Jon Stewart, who has been a strong advocate for first responders, said Friday’s vote is just one step closer to their goal.
“Passing this in the Senate in two weeks — and we’re going to hold Senator McConnell to his word — will be a chance to exhale, but it doesn’t fix the grief and the suffering that they will continue to experience going forward,” Stewart said.
Alvarez died two weeks ago from cancer. He was just 53 years old. Alvarez joined the NYPD in 1990 and was a detective on 9/11.
He had spent months at Ground Zero after the attacks, and then spent his finals weeks calling on Congress to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
“It is my goal and it is my legacy to see that you do the right thing,” Alvarez said.
Stewart sat by Alvarez’s side.
“They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs. Eighteen years later, do yours,” Stewart said.
At the funeral, a sea of blue celebrated Alvarez’s life, and his sister, Aida Lugo, says even on the night before his death, his sister says he got up out of bed on a mission.
“He was coughing. He was agitated. He told me he had been walking and walking. The nurse asked him where he had been walking, and with David as my witness, my brother responded, ‘I was walking to find first responders to make sure they get help,'” Lugos said.
The bill now heads to the Senate and supporters of the Never Forget the Heroes Act are hoping it passes and they’ll all be having a final signing ceremony by Aug. 2.