Obama signs 9/11 bill into law

Washington – A bill providing additional aid for first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City was signed into law following weeks of partisan gridlock. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (H.R. 847) establishes first responder and community treatment and monitoring programs to help 9/11 rescue workers who became ill.

The House passed the legislation in September, but the bill faltered in the Senate after the November election. Republicans blocked the bill from being called for a vote because of concerns about the bill's original $7.4 billion price tag and a desire to first pass tax cut extensions.

After negotiations with GOP leaders, the final bill's cost was reduced to $4.3 billion, a reduction that comes from shrinking the World Trade Center Health Program to five years from eight. The program provides medical monitoring and treatment to responders and survivors with World Trade Center-related conditions.

President Barack Obama signed the bill Jan. 2, calling it a "critical step" to treat ill responders. "We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers and first responders who risked their lives to save others," Obama said in a statement.

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