STATEN ISLAND, NY – Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) on October 6 joined 9/11 widows, widowers, and children from New York City and New York’s 11th Congressional District to celebrate the passage of H.R.8987, the Fairness for 9/11 Families Act, legislation that allows for the United States Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism Fund (USVSST) to equally compensate widows and dependent children of individuals killed in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
The language of H.R.8987 was first introduced by Malliotakis on August 5 under H.R.8667, after months of work with 9/11 victims groups and members on both sides of the aisle. The bill was then reintroduced by Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY-08) and passed the House last week with broad bipartisan support.
“Today I’m joined by widows who lost their husbands on September 11, who served in the FDNY and the NYPD, they are heroes in our city and revered by so many New Yorkers,” Malliotakis said. “Twenty-one years ago they gave their lives to save others and we owe it to these families to make sure they and their children were cared for after losing in many cases the main providers for their families. The exclusion of these widows and children from the USVSST was an injustice that Congress should have never allowed to happen. For nearly six months my office has worked with victims groups and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to correct this, and I’m proud to see the language I introduced in August passed through the House last week. Yes, we’re here to celebrate the passage of this bill, but we still need it to pass the Senate. We’re calling on the Senate to pass this bill after so many years; it’s the right thing to do to support our 9/11 families.”
Janlyn Scauso, the widow of Dennis Scauso who was part of the FDNY’s Hazardous Materials Company No. 1, read a letter on behalf of Angela Mistrulli, Founder of Kids who Lost Parents on September 11, 200 Fight for Equality: “We’ve had many champions along this journey, and we’re proud to add Congresswoman Malliotakis to that list. The Fairness for 9/11 Families Act is a conclusion to an almost seven-year struggle for fairness and equality that over 5,000 widows and children have been fighting for, but our work continues. We are hopeful that the Senate will respond the same and understand the importance of correcting the harm that has been done to our families. It’s representatives like Congresswoman Malliotakis and the many other champions that keep their promise to ‘Never Forget’ alive. We are all truly grateful for all the help and support she has given us over the past six months; it was a breath of fresh air to speak with her office and they immediately understood the inequalities within the USVSST. She has been a caring, honest champion, and more importantly puts her constituents and her causes ahead of any personal recognition.”
“During 9/11, I was a young firefighter working in Midtown Manhattan – there were six members of my own company killed that day and countless in the battalion throughout the city,” said Eric Bischoff, Uniformed Firefighters Association Staten Island Trustee. “My core work in the union is that we don’t forget our families, in fact, that’s really the motivation for the work that we do. When we partner with politicians to get a greater benefit for our families, we can get tremendous outcomes like we’ve had here today. I’ve known Congresswoman Malliotakis for a very long time and she’s been the most amazing supporter of our firefighters and public safety issues. Mr. Schumer – let’s get this bill done in the Senate. These families count on it and it’s the right thing to do.”
The USVSST was established in 2015 to compensate people injured in acts of international state-sponsored terrorism. Between 2017 and 2020, $3.3 billion in payments were made through the fund, however, certain 9/11 spouses, and dependents only became eligible for the fund in 2019 and were left out of the fund’s first two payments. The group initially excluded has received less than .01 percent of their allocated payments, while other groups in the USVSST have received millions of dollars.
To learn more about the USVSST, click here: http://www.usvsst.com.
Video of the press conference is available online: https://bit.ly/3echqcR.