Firefighters union presses GOP candidates on 9/11 health benefits

Firefighters union presses GOP candidates on 9/11 health benefits
© Getty Images

A group of 9/11 first responders who have been diagnosed with cancer and other diseases are putting Republican presidential candidates on the hot seat.

The International Association of Fire Fighters will run a political advertisement Tuesday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, pressuring the presidential candidates to extend healthcare benefits for these first responders.


The ad from the labor union will coincide with the GOP presidential debate, where 9/11 advocates hope to raise awareness about the expiring healthcare benefits for first responders.

“A question worth asking in tonight’s presidential debate: Where do you stand on the 9/11 Health & Compensation Act?” the ad reads.

“The stance of presidential candidates on this issue will tell us a lot about who they are and how much they value the life-saving work of the great patriots who were there when our country needed them the most,” it continues.

The healthcare fund for the firefighters and police officers that are sick as a result of the exposure they had to toxic chemicals while responding to the terrorist attacks began to expire in October. More than 70,000 first responders depend on these medical benefits, according to the firefighters union.

The political ad will target the GOP senators — more so than the governors — at the debate to see whether they would vote to extend the benefits. Four Senate Republicans are running for president: Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSchumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks Bipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy GOP senators seek to block dishonorable discharges for unvaccinated troops MORE (Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Milley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 White House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken MORE (Ky.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Ohio Republican tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case Trump lawyer offered six-point plan for Pence to overturn election: book MORE (S.C.).

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is pushing legislation that would reinstate the benefits for these first responders. The bill has 246 co-sponsors in the House and is backed by a number of Republicans.

Last week, Maloney rallied with firefighters and other lawmakers in Manhattan to extend the benefits.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot MORE (D-N.Y.) is pushing a companion bill that has also attracted Republican support. Of the four presidential candidates, only Graham has signed on as a co-sponsor.

Despite the bipartisan support, neither piece of legislation has seen floor action in Congress.