For the past month or so, all the talk has been about the sequester and how it will affect some government services, such as security at airports. However, the sequester will also affect some government benefits, including benefits under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
According to Michael McAuliff of the Huffington Post, when the Zadroga Act was passed in 2010 it included a provision that made the $4.3 billion fund a mandatory spending program that would be shielded from the budget process ever year. The Act created two new revenue streams that would both pay for the fund and create some surplus to cut the deficit by almost $435 million. One was a visa fee, and the other was a tariff on foreign corporations that get government contracts but whose contracts do not let U.S. businesses get their government contracts.
While neither of these revenue streams is affected by the sequestration, the Huffington Post found that the sequestration does increase the amount that the government is siphoning off by about $27 million. As a result, the money intended to compensate the victims of the 9/11 attacks are being used to pay the federal governments other bills.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York and a sponsor of the bill said, “Nothing exemplifies this unbalanced and irresponsible approach to deficit reduction more than asking our heroes who have already sacrificed so much to sacrifice again.” She went on to say, “The Zadroga Act Fully pays for itself, reduces the deficit by over $400 and would be immune from the sequester if not for the technicality of when it was signed into law.”