Florida U.S. Senator Rick Scott announced on Tuesday that he is backing legislation funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which supports 9/11 survivors and first responders who have experienced health issues following the terrorist attacks.
Thirty-three Democratic U.S. senators are cosponsoring the legislation being sponsored by New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand. According to Congress.gov, Scott now becomes the tenth Republican to sign on as a co-sponsor.
“I was in New York City on September 11, 2001, and saw the terror and devastation inflicted on our nation,” Scott said in a written statement. “Americans around the world felt this attack. But for the survivors, first responders, and families of the victims, the tragedy continues each and every day.”
Marco Rubio, Florida’s other U.S. Senator, has not signed on as a co-sponsor. In the U.S. House of Representatives, 18 members of the Florida delegation are listed as co-sponsors.
The bill would extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090. The fund was first created in 2001 to support those who were injured or killed in the terrorist attack or while removing debris. It was renewed in 2011 and 2015 but is currently set to stop receiving claims after December 18, 2020.
The $7.3 billion fund is in trouble, according to NPR. It has paid out about $5 billion to 21,000 claimants, but still has about 19,000 additional unpaid claims to address.
The House Judiciary Committee passed its version of the bill unanimously last week, a day after TV personality Jon Stewart gave emotional testimony at a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund hearing. The comedian has since had sharp words with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who says the Senate will eventually reauthorize funding.