'A Lack of Empathy & Urgency': Health Funding for 9/11 First Responders Set to Expire
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) talked to Shepard Smith this afternoon about her work on a bill to make permanent federal health benefits for 9/11 first responders.
More than 1,700 first responders have died since 9/11 due to cancer or other respiratory diseases because of the toxic ash and dust they inhaled at Ground Zero.
That includes six who have died just in the weeks since the latest anniversary of 9/11, Gillibrand revealed.
More than 30,000 police officers, firefighters and other first responders suffered at least one injury or illness stemming from the attacks, while more than 4,000 now suffer from cancer as a result.
Parts of the funding will be stopped at midnight Thursday unless Congress acts. If no action is taken, Gillibrand said that funds will be available for a while for survivors to continue treatment, but the money will eventually run out.
Jon Stewart has visited Capitol Hill in recent weeks in an effort to push Congress to make the funding permanent. Gillibrand said Stewart is still calling attention to the urgent issue.
She said since her appearance on "Shepard Smith Reporting" a few weeks ago, she's seen a surge in calls to representatives and it's making a difference.
Gillibrand said nothing happens in Washington until regular people start demanding action.
She said some lawmakers don't want the benefits to be permanent or only want to fund certain treatments.
"How do you tell a police officer, you can only get some of your cancer treatments, because we're not gonna fund all of them? It's outrageous. Truly, the lack of empathy is baffling," said Gillibrand, adding that no lawmaker would "dare" vote against a bill if it comes to the floor.
Gillibrand said there is no vote scheduled right now, and that she still needs more support to reach 60 senators total.
"These are our heroes. They answered the call of duty. They did exactly what we asked of them after 9/11. They stayed for weeks and months, first looking for survivors and then doing the horrible task of looking for remains," she said.
Watch the full interview above.