“Supporting Our Police, Firefighters and Other First Responders”
With the recently passed 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, we are reminded of the brave police, firefighters and other first responders who rushed into the burning towers and assisted their fellow Americans. Many of these heroes suffer today from illnesses caused at the scene. These brave men and women put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our communities safe and we must honor and support them for their acts of selfless courage and community leadership. Supporting these fellow Americans must always be a top priority.
In Congress, I was proud to cosponsor and help lead the successful fight to permanently reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides necessary healthcare to our 9/11 first responders. The Zadroga Act, which was originally passed in 2010, established the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. In 2015, with the healthcare fund expiring, an immediate reauthorization was critical to ensure continued healthcare for our first responders. This permanent extension was a huge victory for 9/11 first responders that ensures that these brave American heroes receive the care they need for years to come, and provides them and their families with peace of mind. After 9/11, we vowed to never forget; this is a critical way we can remember and help all of those who showed enormous amounts of courage and bravery in the aftermath of the attack on America.
In addition to support for our 9/11 first responders, I have also been a strong supporter of bipartisan legislation that will provide assistance to our police, firefighters and other first responders. Earlier this year, the House passed a series of bills in support of police officers. Some of these bills include the Fallen Heroes Flag Act of 2016 (S. 2755), which honors our fallen brothers and sisters killed in the line of duty, the Federal Law Enforcement Self-Defense and Protection Act (H.R. 2137) and Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act (S. 125), both of which ensure that law enforcement officers have the resources they need to protect and defend themselves while on and off duty. I also cosponsor the Volunteer Emergency Responders Tax Deduction Act (H.R. 343), and Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (H.R. 2752), to provide much needed assistance to police and first responders. Additionally, I have also cosponsored legislation in the House, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (H.R. 4625), which has over 100 bipartisan cosponsors and would establish a federal system to monitor and collect data regarding the connection between cancer and firefighting. Three out of five line-of-duty deaths are estimated to be the result of cancer. Researching this growing trend is necessary to best protect our firefighters.
Recently, across our country, our police have been targeted in deadly attacks. There is absolutely no excuse for any hateful act against any of our police or other first responders. All lives matter. All Americans, regardless of race, gender, socio economic status, or religion, must join together in these trying times for our nation to move forward stronger. There should be no divide between police and the citizens they serve. Our police officers and first responders merit our unwavering appreciation as loyal Americans, and we must stand with them. I will continue working in Congress to protect them, just as they support us each and every day.
Congressman Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York. In Congress, Rep. Zeldin serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is also a member of the House Fire Services Caucus.