New York lawmakers want 9/11 victim funds exempt from fiscal cliff

Members of New York’s congressional delegation on Monday traveled to Ground Zero to demand that funds set aside to compensate victims of Sept. 11 not be cut if America goes over the fiscal cliff in January.

Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand says she would not detain immigrants De Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Gillibrand: 'President Trump has started a war on American women' MORE (D) and Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer wants investigation into Chinese-designed New York subway cars Getting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act MORE (D) and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D), Jerrold Nadler (D) and Peter King (R) said that the programs set up in the 2011 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act should join the list of 150 programs exempted from cuts.

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Under the terms of the August 2011 debt-ceiling deal, $109 billion is to be cut from 2013 appropriations in January to punish Congress for failing to come up with a larger debt deal last year. The sudden cuts, along with a slew of tax increases, form a “fiscal cliff” that economists warn could spark a recession next year.

According to the White House budget office, $24 million will be cut from the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, and $14 million would come from the World Trade Center Health Fund, set up to help rescuers injured at Ground Zero.

“Nothing exemplifies this unbalanced and draconian approach to deficit reduction more than asking our heroes who have already sacrificed so much to sacrifice yet again,” Gillibrand said in a release.

In a Sept. 28 letter to Acting Budget Director Jeff Zients, the members argued that Congress did not intend to cut the health and compensation programs given that lawmakers exempted six other similar health funds. The budget office last month released a technical report that laid out generally how the $109-billion cut will be carried out through a process of fund-seizing known as sequestration.

Schumer in his own statement urged Congress to find a “balanced” replacement for the fiscal cliff that involves higher taxes on the wealthy and special interests.