Nadler, Menendez, Schumer Praise House Passage of Legislation to Provide Justice for 9/11 Families
Washington, September 30, 2022
Washington, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today praised the House passage of the bicameral, bipartisan “Fairness for 9/11 Families Act,” which would provide a catch-up payment for thousands of 9/11 victims, spouses and dependents who were unfairly excluded from the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund when it was first established in 2015.
The Fairness for 9/11 Families Act was introduced in the Senate this week by Senator Bob Menendez and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Joining Sens. Menendez and Schumer in cosponsoring the bipartisan Senate bill are Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX)
“Congress has an enduring obligation to support the victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families,” said Chairman Jerrold Nadler. “Although nothing can make up for twenty years of missed birthdays, anniversaries, and memories for those who lost loved ones on September 11th, I hope that these funds can provide some measure of comfort and justice to the people whose lives were changed forever that day. 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. 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.”
“Honoring the lives of those we lost on 9/11 requires concrete actions that show we — as a nation — care for the families who each day face the pain of their loved one’s absence,” said Sen. Menendez. “With the bipartisan Senate introduction and House passage bicameral introduction of the Fairness for 9/11 Families Act, we’re one step closer to delivering justice to 9/11 spouses and children. We hope our legislation sends a clear message that the memories and legacy of those we lost 21 years ago are still guiding us to do what is right.”
“I fought long and hard with 9/11 families and allies in the Senate and House to pass the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund Clarification Act in 2019 that fixed the mistake of excluding certain 9/11 families from United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Now, this catch-up payment rectifies that original error and provides 9/11 spouses and children – as the victims of the worst foreign terror attack in American history – the funds that they should have had access to from day one.”
In 2015, Congress enacted the Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act, which created the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (VSSTF) to provide compensation for individuals with terrorism judgments against designated state sponsors of terrorism. At the time, those who had received payments from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)—primarily victims, spouses and children—were precluded from receiving funds from the VSSTF.
Their exclusion from the fund led to a perverse result by which other family members who were not eligible for payments under the VCF could receive compensation from the VSSTF—in some cases, substantially more than what was paid out under the VCF—while victims, spouses and children were excluded from the fund, despite also having claims.
Congress corrected this injustice in 2019, through the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund Clarification Act. A year later, in the Sudan Claims Resolution Act, Congress tasked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with calculating a lump sum catch-up payment that would bring those who initially had been wrongly excluded from the VSSTF into parity with those individuals who had been included in the fund when it was first created.
The GAO estimated that lump sum catch-up payments to 5,364 victims, spouses, and dependents would total approximately $2.7 billion. This legislation fully funds these payments, with the money coming from funds no longer needed to implement the Paycheck Protection Program.
Text of the legislation (H.R. 8987/S. 5045) can be found here. Background information on the lump sum catch-up payment and the GAO analysis can be found here.