WASHINGTON – The bill to re-authorize the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund will be named in honor of first responders Luis Alvarez and Ray Pfeifer, congressional sponsors announced Monday.
Alvarez, an NYPD detective who contracted cancer after toiling at Ground Zero, died on June 29.
His testimony before an ill-attended House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on June 11 inspired a viral rant by former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, who was there alongside him, and helped garner support for the measure.
The House bill was passed out of committee unanimously the next day.
Later Alvarez’s badge was given to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who committed to a group of 9/11 first responders that the bill would get a Senate vote in August – practically guaranteeing that the fund would be permanently reauthorized, which was Alvarez’s aim.
Alvarez was honored in New York last week. Mayor Bill de Blasio gave the first responder a key to the city, while hundreds attended his funeral services.
Pfeifer, of the FDNY, died in May 2017 after an eight-year battle with cancer. He spent eight months digging through the pile of the former Twin Towers, including a week camped out in his fire truck directly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
He was one of the most prominent advocates for getting the Victim Compensation Fund through Congress. He was eulogized by Stewart in 2017.
When Stewart returned to Capitol Hill this June a group of first responders gifted Stewart Pfeifer’s jacket, bringing the funny man to tears.
The full name of the legislation will become the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund Act.”
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Zadroga – an NYPD officer who also died of cancer – has had his name on the first two iterations of the law, passed in 2010 and again in 2015.
“Ray and Lou will join Jimmy on the Mount Rushmore of those who were instrumental in ensuring we passed legislation for the tens of thousands who suffer everyday from that horrific morning,” said John Feal, the head of the FealGood Foundation, the first responder group that recently met with McConnell.
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“They were selfless, humble and gentleman to the end and they continue to stand guard for us all as part of God’s Army of Angels fighting the 9/11 illnesses.”
A vote for the House version of the bill is expected sometime this month. House members were waiting on a Congressional Budget Office analysis on the bill’s projected costs.
“Luis Alvarez, Ray Pfeifer, and James Zadroga were 9/11 heroes who devoted their lives to helping others, and it is only fitting that this legislation be named in their honor,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, chief sponsor of the bill.
“Our 9/11 first responders are sick and dying, and too many of them have spent too much of their precious time left fighting to convince Congress to pass the 9/11 VCF bill. This legislation has strong bipartisan support and the votes in the Senate and the House to pass this bill as soon as it comes to the floor. This all comes down to political will and whether Congress is truly willing to ‘never forget’ the heroes of 9/11.”