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PR- 515-10
December 20, 2010


Mayor Bloomberg was joined by Congress members Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel, Peter King, Carolyn Maloney, Charles Rangel and Anthony Weiner, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, PBA President Patrick Lynch, UFA President Steve Cassidy, UFOA President Al Hagan and Responder Advocates Joseph Zadroga, Father of James Zadroga, John Feal and Kenny Specht.

Mayor Bloomberg’s Remarks as Delivered in City Hall’s Blue Room Follow:

“Good morning. I want to thank the distinguished members of Congress, our police and fire commissioners, Mr. Joseph Zadroga, some of our first responders, and labor leaders who have joined us today. For years now, all of us have been working very hard to pass a bill through the United States Congress guaranteeing that the first responders and survivors of the attacks of 9/11 receive the health care they need.

“These attacks were attacks on America by a foreign enemy. They were acts of war, and they led us to war in Afghanistan. Caring for the men and women who rushed to our defense on that dark day, and in the days that followed, is nothing less than a national duty. America is too great a country to shirk this duty. We are too strong. Too proud. Too patriotic. And this is the week that we have to show it.

“Getting anything done in Washington is never easy, but thanks to years of hard work by so many people – and thanks to the strong leadership of Pete King, Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler, and many others, the bill did pass the House earlier this year. Earlier this month, the Senate fell several votes short of the 60 required to end debate and take a vote. At the time, Republicans said that they voted against ending debate because they did not believe that any bill should move until a deal on tax cuts had been completed.

“That deal, as you know, is now done. And the time for excuses is over. Very simply: it’s time to end the debate and let the bill be voted on.

“It’s encouraging that the bill has been gaining more Republican support – and I believe that if the Senate ends the debate and takes a vote, other Republicans will join in passing it. I understand the concerns that have been raised about increasing federal spending but this bill will be paid for with other revenue generators – unlike the tax cuts that just won overwhelming support in the Senate. So this is not a vote on whether we should increase the deficit.

“It’s a vote on whether we should stand by those who stood by America in its hour of greatest need. It’s a vote on whether we should fulfill our obligation to the men and women in uniform, and in hard hats, whom we rightly call heroes. And it’s a vote on whether the thousands of Americans who are suffering from 9/11-related illness will at least have the peace of mind that their government has not abandoned them.

“Two weeks ago, many thought that the 9/11 bill was dead. But we didn’t give up.  And thanks to the determined leadership of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand – not to mention the tireless support of many first responders – the bill now has a very real chance of passing. Our two senators deserve a great deal of credit for brokering changes to the bill over the weekend, which ought to bring more Republicans on board.

“The Senate has a full week ahead of it, and it should not adjourn until it passes this bill. I’ve talked to many Senators on behalf of this bill, and I will do whatever I can to help get it passed this week. I know that’s also true of Pete King, Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler – who have been fighting like crazy on this issue for years. Along with the rest of New York’s Congressional delegation, they’ve been great champions for 9/11 victims and responders.

“I’d like to ask each of them to say a few words, starting with Congresswoman Maloney who has been nothing but relentless when it’s come to moving this bill forward. Congressman King? Congressman Nadler? Congressman Rangel? Congressman Weiner? Congressman Engel? Congressman McMahon? Congressman Crowley?

“Before introducing some of the other speakers, I’d also like to thank the members of the World Trade Center Medical Work Group. For years, they’ve documented the ongoing health effects of exposure to the dust cloud in rescue and recovery work and made passage of this bill its primary recommendation.

“Now, many of the people who have fought hardest for this bill have been members of the FDNY and the NYPD, and I’d like to ask Commissioners Sal Cassano and Ray Kelly to say a few words. Commissioner Kelly? Commissioner Cassano?

“We are joined this morning by the father of James Zadroga, Joseph.

“Joseph, thank you, and we all understand that you endured a terrible tragedy with the death of your son, and nothing short of a tremendous champion for this bill you have been, and we are proud to have you stand with us today.

“We are happy to welcome some of the construction workers and first responders who bravely and selflessly took part in the cleanup efforts. That includes John Feal, a construction worker who lost part of his foot during the recovery operation and has since started his own organization, The Feal Good Foundation, to lobby for help for first responders. John, if you could speak briefly about the importance of this bill?

“Kenny Specht is a former lieutenant in the FDNY, and has worked in the recovery efforts. Kenny, you want to say a few words?

“We’re also joined by some of our city’s labor leaders – and I’d like to ask each of them to speak, starting with the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, Steve Cassidy. Pat Lynch, is the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Pat?  Also here is Uniformed Fire Officers Association president Al Hagan. Al?

“Finally, let me introduce Richard Wood, president of Plaza Construction, one of the major construction contractors that responded after 9/11.”


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

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