ELIZABETH — Federal and state leaders gathered at the fire department Monday to implore Congress to reauthorize legislation that gives health benefits to Sept. 11 first responders.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, one of the bill’s original sponsors, told about 80 people gathered outside the firehouse that the law reassures first responders their compensation will last.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act reimburses first responders who contracted health issues after Sept. 11, 2001. The legislation expired Sept. 30, but there is still enough money to continue funding the program for months.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., state Sen. Ray Lesniak and Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage also spoke at the rally.
Booker told the crowd reauthorization of the Zadroga Act is not just a New Jersey or a New York issue.
“We should not have to be here,” he said. “It is a shame upon our nation that we are begging congresspeople to do what’s right.”