Wednesday, November 16, 2005

New York to lose $125 Million set aside for 911 relief workers

Earlier this year the White House suggested to take back the $125 million in aid set aside to treat sick and injured 911 workers. Many of those who risked their lives searching for survivors, cleaning up the mess at ground zero, and caring for the distraught have not yet developed symptoms of illness from what is the most horrific environmental disaster this nation has ever endured. Like many exposed to highly toxic fumes and debris, it is expected that over time these individuals will show signs of long-term lung and mental health problems.

The Senate initially rejected a plan to take back the funds, but after negotiations with representatives from the House decided that they would do just that. The reason the White House originally suggested taking the money back was "they have not spent it yet". The short-sighted vision the administration demonstrates by such a statement is prevalent in much of their rhetoric. If New York is cognizant of the fact that many of those relief workers will need monetary aid in the future due to ailments that develop as a direct result of working at ground zero, someone in the administration should have demurred at the suggestion to rescind and supported New York officials who are better able to determine the needs of their state.

There is a slim chance of the state winning the money back later this year as part of the Katrina Recovery Package, but don't bet on it unless this story is brought before, and remains in front of the public.

On a personal note, it is a disgrace to know that the suggestion to take money away from the brave men and women who will need it desperately in the years to come was even made. The fact that it originated in the White House is no surprise. Nonetheless, I believe in karmic reciprocity, and hope that it is revisited upon the heads of those responsible for stealing back this money a thousand-fold.


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