The United States Senate will vote Tuesday on whether to approve additional funding for the 9/11 victims compensation fund.
U.S. Congressman John Rose was one of 12 members of the House of Representatives who voted against the bill earlier this month. He said the proposal would only worsen the federal government’s financial situation.
“The biggest challenge to the future of the country is the national debt and the large deficits the country continues to run,” Rose said. “We’ll have a trillion dollars in deficit spending this year. That’s not sustainable, and frankly I believe we’ve gotten there by making decisions just like what I believe was a wrong decision in which the way the 9/11 victims compensation fund was extended.”
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was created in 2010 to provide financial support to those affected by hazardous chemicals and materials following the 2001 attack.
Rose said while assisting those affected by 9/11 remains a priority, doing so should come with fiscal responsibility.
“I do believe that we should be faithful to our obligations to help those who were put in harms way on 9/11,” Rose said. “I just think it’s not reasonable and not sensible for the Congress to proceed in a way that doesn’t show faith with the American people in terms of safeguarding the resources of this country.”
In 2015, lawmakers reauthorized the Victims Compensation Fund portion of the bill which only provided enough funding to last through 2020.
Rose said adding on to the nation’s $22 trillion debt isn’t how Congress should honor the victims and first-responders of 9/11.
“I just believed that, for the purposes of sending a message, that I didn’t think this was a responsible to honor the memory of those who died on 9/11 or those who put their lives in harms way,” Rose said, “We owe it to them to represent all Americans responsibly and faithfully and responsibly, and I don’t think our statute did that.”
Rose said the chance still remains that lawmakers could restructure the plan in the future if approved by the Senate Tuesday.
“So very often things don’t work out as we intended them to in Washington. And to think that we won’t come back to this issue for 73 years… maybe there has been some fraud or abuse [that has] emerged,” Rose said. “Maybe these funds don’t end up in the hands of the right people. But we’ve provided no real vehicle in addressing that, and that’s just not acceptable.”
Comedian and 9/11 advocate Jon Stewart addressed Congress members prior to the bill being approved. Senators were originally scheduled to vote on the bill last week until Kentucky Senator Rand Paul blocked the vote from taking place.