NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The fight is finally over.
The president was joined in the Rose Garden by 200 first responders, family members and survivors.
“To every 9/11 hero: You poured out your heart, your sweat, your soul and everything you had for your country,” he said Monday.
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It was a hard won battle for those who have been suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.
“Over the last two decades, you have endured hardship with amazing grace and incredible grit,” said Trump.
Firefighter Joe Makay spent endless hours on the pile at Ground Zero.
“A lot of emotion. It’s been a long fight down in DC. To have the people that walked the halls with us – like Lou and Pfeifer, them being gone, and us carrying on their fight,” he told CBSN New York before the signing.
CBSN New York: 9/11 First Responder, Family Member On Significance Of Signing
Mary Jane Greco, wife of first responder Paul Greco, said, “At least this is bringing some form of peace of mind to everybody.”
“Tens of thousands of people are going to be helped now with this bill passing,” Makay added.
Ray Pfeifer’s Sister Talks About Signing Of 9/11 Victim Compensation Bill
The bill calls for extending the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund through 2092 and an additional $10.2 billion in payments over the next 10 years.
Funding for the bill also covers construction and iron workers who spent weeks and months helping with the recovery and cleanup, as well as students and others who were in the area and suffered from 9/11-related illnesses.
Before Congress passed and the president signed the bill, payouts to victims were at risk of being slashed by 70% as the fund ran out of money.
“We have already lost too many 9/11 heroes, and sadly, many more will become sick and die in the years to come. But now, because this bill is finally the law of the land, our 9/11 first responders, survivors, and their families can finally have some peace of mind as they continue to fight through their illnesses linked to the 9/11 attacks,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Monday. “We will never forget the sacrifice they made for us, and I am grateful to every single person who helped pass this bill and to President Trump for signing it quickly into law.”
“After 9/11, to see the way the country came together, it put wind in our sails,” Makay said.
Caryn Pfeifer, wife of Ray Pfeifer, was also present as Trump signed the bill. Her joy was evident.
“Ray is looking down on us now, and he’s just so proud that this finally got done. Everybody is at peace now. The 9/11 heroes can now rest in peace,” she told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
Before he died from a 9/11-related illness, Pfeifer advocated tirelessly for funds to support people made ill by exposure to toxins after the attack. The numbers are huge.
- You can learn more about the Ray Pfiefer Foundation and make a donation by clicking here.
More than 22,000 claims have already been awarded by the Victim Compensation Fund, and more than 17,000 additional claims are currently under review.
Experts say 9/11 first responders and recovery workers have cancer incidence 11% higher than the general population.
“Our nation owes each of you a profound debt that no words or deeds will ever repay, but we can and we will keep our nation’s promise to you,” Trump said.
“Everybody knows that it’s taken care of, all the family members and everybody else who was sick, who was struggling to help maybe pay for their bills. Guys who are in hospice right now, they know that they can go easy,” 9/11 first responder Brian McGuire said.
Caryn Pfeifer gave her husband’s FDNY shield to Trump as a thank you. She wears his number, 8909, around her neck. The number is now assigned to her son, FDNY firefighter Terence Pfeifer.
“I think politics aside, everyone got together and they did the right thing, what needed to be done. These 9/11 heroes deserve this, and it’s just amazing they got together and did this,” he said.
The bill was a bipartisan effort, but no elected Democrats attended Monday’s event.
Congressman Max Rose’s office says he was not invited. Sen. Chuck Schumer was notified late Saturday, but chose to fulfill a commitment in upstate New York.