Tester Votes to Permanently Reauthorize the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement on his vote to pass the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act:

“The men and women who responded to the September 11th attacks heroically answered the call of duty—and now we have a duty to them. Fulfilling that duty to provide healthcare and benefits is our basic responsibility as Americans, and I’m glad Congress finally stepped up to the plate. First responders in Montana and across the country put their lives on the line to keep us safe every day, and we’ve got to take care of them as well as they take care of us.”

The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund provides care and resources for first responders who were injured, became ill, or died as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Legislation to permanently reauthorize the fund passed 97-2 in the Senate today, after passing with bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The bill nearly passed unanimously that same week in the Senate, but was held up after objections by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

This reauthorization will finance full payments to first responders for 9/11-related health conditions for 70 years. Since its creation, more than 50,000 first responders have been diagnosed with 9/11-related health issues, including chronic asthma, heart disease, and cancer.

Tester is a steadfast supporter of first responders in Montana and across the country. He repeatedly voted to fund the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and fought to secure line-of-duty death benefits for firefighters like Great Falls’ Jason Baker, who died this year after battling a job-related disease. Tester’s Fire Fighter Cancer Registry Act, which creates a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with the deadly disease, was signed into law last year, and he introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure the country’s first responders receive full retirement benefits if they are injured on the job.

Tester also partnered with the late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to pass the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act, which reauthorized two critical grant initiatives that have helped dozens of Montana fire departments and were set to expire. These Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) grants provide rural fire departments with the resources they need to properly train and equip firefighters for emergency situations. And the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants provide funding directly to professional and volunteer fire departments to help increase and maintain the number of trained firefighters in rural communities.

More information about Tester’s work on behalf of first responders is available HERE.