Charles Djou Failed 9/11 First Responders
After 9/11, and loss of nearly 3,000 lives, including 403 First Responders who famously “ran into the fire,” politicians across America repeatedly vowed, “We will never forget.”
Less than ten years later it was clear many had, in fact, forgotten.
In the days, weeks and months following 9/11, over fifty thousand First Responders – Police, Fire, Rescue, and others – toiled in the ruins of the Twin Towers to recover the remains of those who perished.
The dust from the collapsed towers was highly toxic, according to air pollution experts, and included more than 2,500 contaminants, including asbestos, lead, mercury, carbon monoxide, crystalline silica, lead, dioxins and other carcinogens.
Over the coming years, more than ten thousand First Responders became seriously ill from multiple cancers, lung ailments, kidney disease, heart disease. Hundreds died.
In February 2009, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney introduced the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to address the needs 9/11 First Responders, which led to a protracted political battle with Tea Party Republicans for nearly two years.
One of the first who voted against health benefits for 9/11 First Responders was Charles Djou.
Djou voted “no” for the first time on July 29, 2010 and again on September 29, 2010. The measure went on to face a Republican Senate filibuster fight that lasted months.
The Republican and Tea Party opposition to the bill was baffling to many – especially First Responders themselves – since the measure was being paid for by closing a tax loophole (on questionable foreign investments) and did not add to the deficit. And it addressed the clear moral obligation to look after the health care of those who risked their lives in the recovery efforts after the World Trade Center attacks. At the time, conservative news commentator Joe Scarborough called the GOP’s opposition to the bill “a terrible mistake.”
Thankfully, the 9/11 First Responders Health And Compensation Act would finally pass – without Djou’s vote – and was signed into law by President Obama on January 2nd, 2011. (Incredibly, many of the same GOP lawmakers would later fight its extension in 2015.)
But the vows to “never forget” by the politicians who opposed the measure – including Charles Djou – still ring hollow. Let’s not forget who stood against the First Responders.
To read more about Djou’s other questionable votes in Congress, click here.