Congresswoman Maloney and I unveiled federal legislation yesterday to reopen the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) to provide financial assistance to the heroes who worked at Ground Zero. Our bill comes one day after the release of a Mt. Sinai study which revealed that 70% of 9/11 responders have developed new or worsening respiratory problems as a result of their service.

The bipartisan legislation is named in honor of Detective James Zadroga, who is the the first 9/11 responder to have his death directly attributed to his exposure to the toxins of Ground Zero. Our bill would ensure that rescue workers, students, federal employees and residents in the area have - for the very first time - access to federal funding for treatment of health issues due to 9/11.

Specifically, the legislation removes the December 22, 2003 deadline for filing a claim with the fund, allows a revaluation of certain claims and removes the arbitrary deadline that would only make eligible those who were at Ground Zero within 96 hours of the attacks.

This legislation is needed because the long-term health impacts of 9/11 will remain unclear for many years. Therefore, it's essential that federal resources be available to treat those who are sick or injured today as well as workers who fall ill in the future. The 9/11 heroes who dug through the rubble to find those who were lost and who cleared the site of debris now face their own medical challenges. The Fund represents the most realistic and efficient way to ensure that those who need medical treatment get it without undue delay.