Locals, lawmakers react to no vote on 9/11 compensation fund by Harris

MARYLAND – Maryland Eastern Shore representative Andy Harris is coming under fire from both sides of the aisle for his No vote for an extension on September 11th victim compensation fund through 2089.

In a statement released this week, Harris says taking care of 9/11 first responders is a priority, but says the Zadroga Act, passed four years ago, takes care of health needs until 2090. He adds that congress was fiscally irresponsible to pass this legislation, which is estimated to cost 10 billion dollars over the next seven decades.

Without this extension, the fund is scheduled to close on December 18, 2020.

Some supporters continue to stand behind Harris’ decision.

“He is a total supporter of making sure that they get what they need, but you have to make sure that money’s going where it’s supposed to be,” said an Andy Harris supporter named Linda from Harford County. “There’s got to be some kind of accountability.”

Locals with the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus say this is another example of Harris voting against Eastern Shore values.

“That’s his go to excuse for everything. He said that for voting against the farmers, he said it for voting against Hurricane relief. Every time he makes a horrible vote on something that’s against our eastern shore values, Andy Harris says it’s for fiscal responsibility. It’s not. He’s a partisan figure who can’t work with the other side of the aisle,” said Jared Schablein, the chair of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus.

As for locals, like John MacDonald with Delmar fire for five years, he says anyone who votes against funding first responders will lose his vote.

“I’m an ex fire fighter, you don’t hold these funds up… I’m going to vote you out of office, and I hope a number of people join me in this.”

Rep. Andy Harris released a statement regarding his decision:

“Of course, taking care of 9/11 first responders is important and a priority. The Zadroga Act, passed four years ago, already takes care of their health needs until 2090. H.R. 1327 goes far beyond taking care of the health needs of the 9/11 first responders, providing a compensation fund for the next 70 years for potentially 600,000 victims of 9/11. Because this could cost tens of billions of dollars, Congress should find another place in our budget that is a lower priority to pay for it. But Congress is lazy. The Democrat House majority instead chose to be fiscally irresponsible and, on a party-line vote, suspended their own rule requiring Congress to find a source of funding whenever new spending is approved that would otherwise increase our federal debt and deficit. A group of fiscally responsible members of the House, as well as the Senate, are now working on a plan that would be able to fund this important idea while finding a way to pay for it so that it doesn’t increase our debt and deficit by tens of billions of dollars for future generations.”

We received statements from Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.

Cardin’s statement read:

“Taking care of the health needs of our first responders, who rushed in to save lives during the most horrendous terrorist attack in American history, should have bipartisan, universal support. This is not about fiscal responsibility. This is about moral responsibility.”

Van Hollen’ statement read:

“On 9/11, our first responders risked their lives to save countless others. Providing them and their families with the continued support they need is the least we can do to repay our debt of gratitude. The House did the right thing in overwhelmingly passing this bill on a bipartisan basis, and those who want to shortchange these men and women should be ashamed. It’s especially galling in the wake of their support for tax cuts for corporations which created a $2 trillion hole our deficit. I urge the Senate to pass this legislation immediately.”

Categories: Local News, Maryland