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tv   U.S. House of Representatives House Debates 911 Victim Compensation Bill  CSPAN  September 30, 2022 7:31pm-8:02pm EDT

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said before we all know that we must pass the c.r. to keep the government opened. but this bill is a wasted opportunity. i urge my colleagues to vote against this bill. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from texas yields back the balance of her time. the gentlewoman from connecticut is recognized. ms. delauro: i yield back. the spea the house also debated and passed compensation for families of 9/11 victims. r. speaker, the fairness for 9/11 families act would provide a catch-up payment to thousands of 9/11 victims, spouses and dependents who were unfairly excluded from the u.s. victims of state sponsor terrorism fund when it was first established in 2015. while no amount of money can ever make up for the incalculable loss that they suffered on september 11, this
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legislation would ensure that they are fairly compensated for their claims against those responsible for one of our nation's darkest days. in 2015, congress created the united states victims of state sponsor terrorism fund to provide compensation for individuals with terrorism judgments against designated state sponsorrers of -- sponsors of terrorism. at the time, those who are received payments from the 9/11 victims compensation fund, primarily victims and spouses and children, were precluded from receiving funds from the vsstf. their exclusion from the fund led to a preverse -- perverse result in which other family members could receive compensation from the vsstf. in some cases substantially more than what was paid out under the v.c.f. while victims, spouses and children were excluded from the fund, despite also having claims. congress corrected this injustice in 2019 and a year
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later it tasked the government accountability office with calculating a lumpe sum catch-up -- lump sum catch-up payment that would bring those wrongfully excluded into parity with those individuals who had been included in the fund when it was first created. the fairness for 9/11 families act fully funds these catch-up payments, offset by funds no longer needed to implement the paycheck protection program. i want to thank senators menendez and schumer for their partnership on this legislation and for all of their efforts to provide justice and support to 9/11 families over the years. i also want to thank the many victims and family members whose advocacy and determination were essential to bringing this legislation forward. although nothing can make up for 20 years of missed birthdays, anniversaries and memories for those who lost loved ones on september 11, i hope that these funds can provide some measure of comfort and justice to the people whose lives were changed forever that day.
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as we pass this legislation, we must not forget the survivors and first responders who continue to suffer the health effects of the 9/11 attacks. as i always have, i will continue to fight to ensure that these people have the care they need. we can and we must look after everyone who was affected that fateful day. i urge all members to support the fairness for 9/11 families act and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from ohio is recognized. >> i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. jordan: thank you, mr. speaker. the families, excuse me, the families of the 9/11 victims have our deepest sympathies. they have spent the last 20 years seeking justice through a maze of red tape. due to errors made with how funds to compensate victims were structured, a disparity emerged exeen the compensation received by differently situated 9/11 families. this legislation would help remedy that inequity. behind the scenes we've been working to solve this problem
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for years. unfortunately the democrats have not been particularly interested. during the last few years of trying to resolve this matter, the judiciary committee's not held a single hearing. or markup to evaluate the problems with victims' funds, how to best address the problem. according to a g.a.o. study required by congress, the shortfall owed to 9/11 families amounts to $2.7 billion. the proposal before us takes from covid relief money that congress appropriated for small businesses to make 9/11 families whole. there are potential solutions to this problem that we should have put forward earlier. unfortunately this -- because chairman nadler has declined to allow the judiciary committee to consider these other possibilities, we are left with just the bill before us today. i do think it's important to recognize that we are here today thanks to the hard work of congresswoman malliotakis and congressman smith. i know they have been working tirelessly on this during this entire congress. it would have been nice to have their bill in front of our
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committee for some debate. we never would have gotten to the place of finding a solution for these victims without their tireless efforts. i urge a yes vote and reserve the balance of our time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. nadler: mr. speaker, i now yield two minutes to the distinguished gentlelady from texas, ms. jackson lee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from texas is recognized for two minutes. ms. jackson lee: i ask unanimous consent. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. ms. jackson lee: let me thank the gentleman from new york for work that is long overdue, and senators in the other house as well, the other body. i lived through 9/11, as many of us who have served in this congress have done. i lived through the terror, the horror, the horrific scenes that were unspeakable and unbelievable. i lived through them with the same sense of this could not be
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america. i was in this building as the planes hit the pentagon. we did not get the direct information about the world trade towers but as we were screamed at to get out and flee, as we ran without knowledge, i could see the billoing smoke -- billowing smoke as the plane had already hit the pentagon. never in the lives of ours since world war ii and that of pearl harbor had i seen or heard about, if you will, such atrocities and violence. imagine those families, never to bury their loved ones. i went to ground zero by train because at that time the planes were not in the air. i was insistent, as a member of the beginning of the homeland security committee, to go there with a former senator. we went to the very site. no, there was not rescuing at that time. it was recovering. and we saw those fire department
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personnel, firemen, and law enforcement guarding this sacred place. and those fire persons would get a whistle blown because someone who had been digging found the remnants of a body. scraps of bones, not scraps, but pieces of bones. and because they wanted to honor those families, they would blow the whistle and a gurney would come and they'd put what they found on the gurney. that is what this bill is all about. it is to be able to say that families have suffered uncon szennably and that -- uncon shunnably. the families have faced financial hardship. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman's time has expired. mr. nadler: i grant the gentlelady an additional 30 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from texas is recognized. ms. jackson lee: so legislation would provide the financial relief of those murdered by the terrorists by helping to provide
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more dollars in this victims fund, more so than the victims compensation fund, to provide them with catch-up payments that they did not get. that is important to do and might i say that i visited with the uvalde families this past monday. their pain is deep and it is the same. they don't have a handle on these compensation funds. they are suffering and as this has evidenced that you must always ease the suffering of you cannot replace their loved ones, i look forward to working with the chairman on helping these uvalde families in their suffering and i support this legislation. thank the chairman and i yield back my time. support h.r. 898. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back. the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from ohio is recognized. mr. jordan: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield as much time as he wants to the gentleman from new jersey who has been representing the good folks of his state for over four decades here in the united states congress and who has worked tirelessly on this issue. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new jersey is recognized.
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mr. smith: i thank the ranking member from ohio for his leadership and for his kind word. and i would like to thank the chairman of the judiciary committee for sponsoring this extraordinarily important piece of legislation. you know, mr. speaker, everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing. i was in washington here. chairing a veterans' affairs committee hearing when a group of radical jihadists hijacked four airliners to perpetrate the worst act of terrorism in american history. today, 21 years later, we remember the horror and pain suffered by those who were murdered and the anguish felt by their families and friends, both then and now. on the morning of 9/11 i got a mere glimpse into the sense of horror suffered by the victims' families when i couldn't reach my own brother, tom, a captain who often piloted flight 11 from lowingen to l.a., the flight that crash into the north tower. after several hours i finally made contact, he was ok. but he was friends with the crew
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of flight 11, all who were killed that day. i asked my colleagues to strongly support h.r. 8987, the fairness for 9/11 families act. this legislation addresses a significant shortcoming in programs made available to the widows and children of 9/11. as i think members know, in 2015 congress created the united states victims of state sponsor terrorism fund to provide compensation to americans injured in acts of international state sponsored terrorism. despite the obvious connection to the 9/11 surviving family members, however, a misinterpretation of the law by the fund's special master unjustly barred spouses and children of 9/11 from participating in the fund. in 2021 at the behest of congress, the g.a.o. conducted be a investigation and found that -- an investigation and found that 5,364 victims,
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spouses and dpents were excluded -- dependents were excluded from the fair restitution due to a technicality in the administration of the victims of state sponsored terrorism fund. h.r. 8987 provides an immediate leaf with a lump sum catch-up payment to the victims' immediate families. for two decades, mr. speaker, i have worked with the jersey girls to achieve justice, that's what they call themselves, wonderful, wonderful widows who have tried to achieve justice for those who committed these horrific crimes and for those who suffered and were left behind. because of them we got the 9/11 commission. and i was the chief republican sponsor of that bill. but that wasn't because of what we did here as much as it was because of the work that they did in walking the halls and trying to get people to support a 9/11 fund. our former governor headed up that, along with lee hamilton,
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the distinguished former chairman of the foreign affairs committee. and what they produced after their hearings became the blueprint to protect america. as they noted in their opening statement, and i chaired two hearings about implementing the report, what they said was, we are safer but not safe. and they prescribed both administrative and legislative actions that should be undertaken to protect america. i would note that kathy who works on my staff and lost her husband, who is with us today, christian, lori, kathy and her sons joseph and daniel, and the next generation of 9/11 family advocates, including angela and brett, who lost parents on 9/11, were the driving force in achieving this win today which, again, is a modicum of justice for their egregious loss. i want to thank nicole malliotakis, our friend and colleague from staten island, for her work on this and her
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bill. as well as the chairman's bill. which has a pay-for. i think this is an important, important piece of legislation. i hope every member of the body will support it. i yield back the balance. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from ohio reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. nadler: mr. speaker, i now recognize the gentlelady from connecticut, ms. delauro, for two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. delauro: mr. speaker, i rise in support of the fairness for 9/11 families act. 9/11 is a day that left an indelible mark on all of us. we all remember where we were. when the towers fell, they took so many innocent lives. and the families left suffered irreplaceable loss. this bill would provide catch-up payments to 9/11 survivors, spouses and dependents who were
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unfairly excluded from the u.s. victims of state sponsored terrorism fund. while no amount of money can make up for their loss, this bill would fairly compensate them for their claims against those responsible for one of our nation's darkest days. it would provide some relief to people like my constituents, gael, gale, who lost her husband, bruce, on 9/11. her son, brett, who lost his father on 9/11. he was just 15 years old. that dark day, bruce saved lives. he was an incredible human being, a devoted husband, father and friend. and helping to save lives he lost his own. bruce would be proud to know that his son, brett, has led the charge on this fight. i've been so proud to work with him, it's an honor to work with
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him to get this done. he never gave up. the families never gave up. and while we cannot fill the hole in the hearts of these families, we can say we understand your sacrifice, your loss, and make justice work on your behalf. today i urge my colleagues to stand with all these families, do the right thing, support this critical legislation. it is so long overdue. thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from ohio is recognized. mr. jordan: thank you, mr. speaker. i would yield as much time as the gentlelady from new york would i yield as much time to the gentlelady as she would consume, a gentlelady who has worked so hard on this, ms. malliotakis. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. mall -- ms. malliotakis:
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after so long, the pain has not faded. those who have an empty spot at the dinner table, these who lost parents, spouses. they are still fighting for compensation under the united states victims of terrorism fund. frankly the exclusion of the 5364 widows and children from this fund was an injustice that congress never should have allowed to happen. as a result of the exclusion they missed the first two payments from the terrorism fund, creating a massive disparity between their restorative justice and others, people like madeleine bergen and jeanette smith, who lost their husbands, fdny firefighters, on that day. this bill would catch up widows
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and children to our victims' groups an ensure that move tbargd they're no longer left out, forgotten or excluded. this bill rights a grave wrong that should have been corrected long ago. today, with us earlier, was and yes la, the head of the 9/11 children for justice, someone who was also affected. a tireless advocate for the widows and children, someone who has become a gad friend to me and my office. for nearly sick months, we have been working together on this issue and this legislation and today i am proud of the work that we've done is being brought to this floor and the widows of children -- the widows and children are one step closer to their entitled compensation. i do thank chairman nadler, i do thank ranking member jordan, i do thank chris smith and my other colleague, kathleen rice who made this a bipartisan bill.
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i want to thank them for their support and help in getting this done. president truman once said, it's amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit. this case is no different. so many people have come together from across the political spectrum to correct a wrong that should have been done, as i said, years ago. i'm so proud and honored to have been part of this process and bringing these wonderful people, people who lost so much, some justice. so i urge every member of this chamber on both sides of the aisle to spot vogt in support of this legislation. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. nadler: i now yield one minute to the distinguished speaker of the house, ms. pelosi. the speaker: the speaker is pec- the speaker pro tempore: the speaker is recognized. the speaker: i thank the gentleman for yielding and i thank you for bringing this important legislation to the floor. i rise in strong support of the
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fairness for 9/11 families act, another vital step to support our september 11 heroes and their families. let us salute you, chairman nadler, for your committed leadership in bringing this to the floor as i mentioned p on september 11, as we mentioned, our nation watched in horror as unfathomable acts of terror unfolded on our soil, gripped by an unthinkable nightmare. but for thousands of families it was only the beginning. children growing up without mom or dad by their side. missing smiles at dance recitals and soccer games. empty seats at graduation, weddings, and baptisms. yet in the wake of such harrowing tragedy, these families rallied together, turning their sorrow into solidarity, transforming their pain into purpose, mobilizing their agony into advocacy. some of them were very much responsible for us getting a 9/11 commission which some in
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congress had resisted. but without their outside mobilization it would not have happened. the country and the congress greatly admire the survivors and families who have come together to make their voices heard, again, on the ongoing. it was my honor to host many of them in the capitol earlier this month, or actually -- yeah, september, we're still in september. to listen to their moving stories and learn how we can continue to support them. this is an injustice, as was described. moved by their remarkable resilience, the house has worked relentlessly to honor our solemn promise to the 9/11 families. we passed the zdroga act to ensure they could receive help if the september 11 victim compensation fund and we passed the never forget the heroes act to permanently authorize those funds. but there's still more to be done to ensure they get every last cent they are due.
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i don't know that any money really makes up for their loss, but what they are due, they should receive. the fairness for 9/11 families corrects an outrageous injustice, finally delivering the $2.7 billion that these families are owed from the united states victims of state-sponsored terrorism fund. this initiative was established to support americans devastated by evils of international terrorism. -- terror. but for years the wifes, husbands and children of those killed on 9/11 were refused assistance from this particular fund. even as more distant relatives received compensation. yes, they were getting funds from an earlier fund but if you got money from the earlier fund you couldn't get money from this additional fund. and now this is about fairness today.
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as democrats took the majority we ended this unconscionable disparity. today we vote to make them whole, delivering the benefits they were wrongfully denied. no amount of money, again, can replace those who were stolen away, nor restore the memories and moments that could have been. but with this legislation we can further ease two decades of anguish and take another step to ensure that justice is done. i'm so pleased that it is being done in a bipartisan way. because at the start, that was not the case. president lincoln once cautioned against the silent artillery of time. the slow study -- slow, steady fading of our nation's collective memory. for 21 years, these families have served as a bulwark against that silent threat. here today, let us stand with them and renew our sacred promise to never forget. i urge a resounding and
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bipartisan yes, hopefully a unanimous vote, so we may empower thousands of americans to find the peace they deserve. mr. speaker, as i have the floor, i also want to rise in strong support of the continuing resolution to keep government open and working for the people. this legislation ensures full government funding thru december 16, giving appropriate imlors time to reach bipartisan, bicameral agreement on funding levels for the upcoming fiscal year. and it includes critical funding to support the ukraine, to respond to natural disasters and to advance many additional key priorities. i thank chairman delauro, chair of the appropriations committee, for her strong, value he was driven leadership to bring forth this necessary legislation. as i shawls say -- as i always say, as an appropriator myself, left to their own device, the appropriators will find a
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bipartisan path. we thank rosa for her ongoing work to assemble an omnibus government funding package that honor ours values as a nation. that's the next step. today we proceed with this legislation as we do, war rages in ukraine, congress secures an additional $12.3 billion for ukraine, provides aid to the ukrainian people. this comes at a pivotal moment as ukraine's freedom fighters work to turn the tide, liberate keg cities and repelling russian forces. when i traveled to berlin for the g-7 meeting, it was my privilege to hear directly from ukrainian speaker who offered an invaluable report on the state of the war. at those meetings i reiterated our unbreakable, unshakeable
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commitment to stand with ukraine in the fight for democracy. and by the way, every other speaker of the g-7, every other speaker of the grveg-7, they call them heads of parliament in some countries, spoke out strongly in favor of democracy in ukraine. it was just me -- it wasn't just me talking about the unbreakable, sun shakable commitment, others did to. with this we take another step to honoring our country's pledge. this legislation directs significant funding to help american families devastated by disaster. we continue to hold all the families affected by hurricane ian in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time but we need money to help them. the $2 billion or more in the community development block grant in this bill will go toward supporting florida as well as puerto rico, alaska and other communities hit by
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disaster. but again, we need more. and we're also allowing fema to spend up to its entire year of fund, giving the agency access to an additional $18.9 billion from fema's disaster relief fund to quickly respond to disasters, especially appropriate now with ian. and we will need more. thanks to the leadership of congresswoman leger fernandez, we are sending $5 million to help new mexicans recover after the fire. she and others from new mexico were instrumental in making sure we were made aware of the disastrous mistake made in new mexico and how we need to address it. at the same time, thanks to the impassioned advocacy of congressman bennie thompson, we secured $20 billion in jackson,
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mississippi, which is suffering a water emergency. this manmade disaster is an immediate threat. and the bill provides funding to help families pay their bills and stay safe in their homes this winter. this legislation is a package for the people. i urge a strong bipartisan yes on the continuing resolution so we may swiftly send this bill to the president's desk and i hope that we'll have a unanimous vote on the legislation fairness for 9/11 families to again support our 9/11 heroes and their families. with that, mr. speaker, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields. the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from ohio is recognized. mr. jordan: we yield back the balance of our time. the speaker pro tempore: the
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gentleman yields. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. nadler: mr. speaker, when our nation was attacked on september 11, we made a commitment on that terrible day to support the victims and their families. the fairness for 9/11 families honors that commitment. i urge all members to suppo ♪ announcer: c-span's washington journal, every day we take your calls live on the air on the news of the day and discuss policy issues that impact you. coming up saturday morning, a discussion on russian president vladimir putin's move to an ex occupied territory in ukraine and the impact of the partial military mobilization. in our spotlight on podcast segment, we will feature a reporter talking about campaign 2022 in his podcast "the run-up."
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