A Utah senator is holding up a vote to approve bipartisan legislation that would provide for 9/11 victims and their families, infuriating first responders who gave their all on that day, The Post has learned.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee has placed a procedural hold on an extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, a Senate aide confirmed to The Post, effectively blocking the bill from coming up for a vote despite overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle.
“There is bipartisan support in the Senate. This is poised to pass,” said Jake Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. “This is vital legislation [which] protects all first responders across the country.”
Lemonda and leaders of other firefighter unions camped outside Lee’s Capitol Hill office on Wednesday, hoping to speak with Lee about his last minute hold-up, but said they were turned away by the senator’s staffers.
“We tried to speak with somebody in his office and we weren’t given attention,” said Gerard Fitzgerald, president of New York’s Uniformed Firefighters Association. “If he’s not on board, we’d appreciate a reason why.”
Fitzgerald noted that the hold up comes as the FDNY’s heroes are preparing for the Saturday funeral of one of their own, smoke-eater Kevin Nolan, who recently succumbed to 9/11-related cancer.
“Another man taken down, taken away from his family, as a result of his work at the site on 9/11 and after,” said Fitzgerald. “We in New York City are dealing with this constantly.”
Harold A. Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, agreed.
“Every one of those workers, certainly every one of those firefighters and cops, they didn’t hold,” said Schaitberger, who penned a strongly-worded letter to Lee’s office. “They didn’t that day. They didn’t for weeks and months to follow.”
A spokesperson for Lee said that the senator wants a last second look at the legislation over concerns of fiscal misuse.
“Sen. Lee is seeking a vote to ensure the fund has the proper oversight in place to prevent fraud and abuse,” said the spokesperson.
Photo Credit: C-Span