Disaster Aid & Relief Efforts: Against It Before He Was For It

By: Meredith Kelly


December’s year-end spending bill included a long overdue provision to reauthorize the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides necessary health benefits to 9/11 first responders and survivors. In renewing the measure, Ryan noted that “politics should never interfere with doing the right thing.” Indeed. Yet Ryan’s own record on both the Zadroga Act and on critical disaster relief for families and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy tells a very different story. Ryan’s ideological objection to what he deemed “a new health care entitlement” is exactly the kind of politically charged rhetoric that threatened the House’s renewal of the Zadroga Act for months.


Ryan Voted Twice Against Initial Passage Of Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Act To Provide Health Care For 9/11 First-Responders. In 2010, Ryan voted twice against providing compensation funding for first responders to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, establishing a medical program and reopening funding for individuals exposed to harmful debris. The bill, formally titled the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, was named after a New York Police Department detective who participated in the ground zero effort and died on symptoms common to first responders. Under the measure, the Department of Health and Human Services would run a 10-year program to treat and monitor those with medical problems from the debris exposure. The program would also research conditions that may be related to the exposure, as well as diagnostic methods and treatment. Enrollment would be capped at 25,000 patients at any time. [HR 847, Vote #491, 7/29/10; HR 847, Vote #550, 9/29/10; CQ Today, 9/29/10; ABC News, 9/10/12]

Ryan Missed Final Vote – But Said He Would Have Opposed Passage, Dismissing It As “A New Health Care Entitlement” That Was “Deeply Flawed.”  “The vote I wish to discuss is the bill H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Without a doubt, Republicans and Democrats can agree that both the victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and the first responders who bravely served following the attacks deserve to be fairly treated and compensated. However, this bill would create a new health care entitlement, the World Trade Center Health Program, while also extending eligibility for compensation under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001. As a result, had I been present, I would have voted against passage of the bill. … rather than working with Republicans to craft a bill which truly addressed the shortcomings in care provided to those directly impacted by the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Majority instead rushed this bill to the floor in the waning hours of the 111th Congress, refusing to allow an open debate or consider amendments. The result is a deeply flawed bill.” [HR 847, Vote #664, 12/22/10; Congressional Record, H8963, 12/22/10]

2012: Ryan Refused To Commit To Extending Zadroga Act. “Buck declined to say whether Ryan would support extending further aid to first responders with cancer and failing lungs when the money runs out in 2016, the last year of a potential Romney-Ryan administration.” [Huffington Post, 9/11/12]

Headline: ABC News: “Paul Ryan’s Votes on Fiscal Cliff and Sandy Could Haunt Him Four Years From Now.” [ABC News, 1/5/13]

Ryan Voted Twice Against Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts For Northeast United States. [HR 41, Vote #7, 1/4/13; HR 152, Vote #23, 1/15/13]

Initial Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill Kept National Flood Insurance Program Solvent & Able To Pay Claims To Thousands Suffering Flood Damage In New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. “The Congress on Friday approved $9.7 billion in initial relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy, but New York and New Jersey lawmakers seethed over delays in passing the rest of a $60.4 billion federal aid package. The House of Representatives voted 354-67 to keep the National Flood Insurance Program solvent and able to pay claims of thousands of homeowners who suffered flood damage in coastal New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from the October storm.” [Reuters, 1/4/13]

Second Relief Bill Aimed To Help Residents & Businesses In Areas Affected By Sandy Rebuild, Including Repairs To NY & NJ Transit. “The measure is aimed primarily at helping residents and businesses as well as state and local governments rebuild from the storm. The biggest chunk of money is $16 billion for Housing and Urban Development Department community block grants. Of that, about $12.1 billion will be shared among Sandy victims as well as those from other federally declared disasters in 2011-13. The remaining $3.9 billion is solely for Sandy-related projects. More than $11 billion will go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief aid fund for Sandy and other disasters. Another $10 billion is devoted to repairing New York and New Jersey transit systems.” [AP, 1/29/13]