U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved a bill to ensure lifetime funding for 9/11 victims, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign it later this week.
In a vote of 97 to 2, the Senate passed the bill that would provide financial support through 2090 for medical claims of thousands of first responders of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, who worked under hazardous conditions to rescue people and have been suffering from all kinds of health issues.
Citing a source familiar with the situation, CBS News said President Trump is expected to sign the bill on Friday and 9/11 first responders have also been invited to attend the signing ceremony at the White House.
On July 12, the House overwhelmingly passed the bill to extend funding for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund through 2090, weeks after a powerful and emotional speech made by U.S. comedian Jon Stewart brought nationwide attention to the issue.
However, the bill failed to pass the Senate in a unanimous vote last week after Senator Rand Paul and Senator Mike Lee voted against it.
Paul cited budget concerns, saying any new spending should be offset by corresponding cuts. From 2001 to 2004, the original fund distributed over 7 billion U.S. dollars to families of 2,880 people who died on 9/11 and 2,680 individuals who were injured, according to a report of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
In 2011, Congress reopened the fund and in 2015 extended it for another five years, giving 7.4 billion dollars to thousands more people.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the new bill would cost about 10.2 billion dollars over the next 10 years.
“Today is not a celebration. It’s a deep sigh of relief,” said New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday’s passage of the bill.
The Sept. 11 attacks were a series of coordinated terrorist attacks against U.S. targets that killed 2,996 people and injured over 6,000.
The incident is considered by a majority of Americans as the most important historic event that took place in their lifetimes.