WASHINGTON -- The nation's leading Republicans marked the 11th anniversary of 9/11 with the words "never forget" on their lips -- most of those using the occasion to promote legislation -- but nearly all of them opposed the bill passed two years ago to help the first responders who suffered health problems in the wake of the attacks.

Prominent among them was vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who voted twice against the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and opposed the final passage of the bill.

"Eleven years ago today, from Capitol Hill, I could see the smoke rising from the fires burning in the Pentagon. Like all Americans, I will never forget the moment that our homeland came under attack," Ryan said in a statement. "For me, this is a day to remember those who perished on that day of terror, including the first responders."

A spokesman for Ryan, Brendan Buck, insisted that Ryan supports 9/11 responders and pointed to the congressman's votes soon after the attacks in favor of aid for those suffering. He explained Ryan's Dec. 2010 comments on the House floor in opposition to the Zadroga bill by noting that Ryan said he didn't like the bill because he thought it was flawed, was "rushed" onto the floor by Democrats, and created a new mandatory spending program.

Ryan also voted against previous versions of the measure, in September and June of 2010, and the version that ultimately passed the House did so without Ryan's vote. It passed the Senate unanimously after Republicans there extracted numerous concessions, including cutting the fund from $7.4 billion to $4.3 billion and making that money available for only six years.

Buck declined to say whether Ryan would support extending further aid to first responders with cancer and failing lungs when the money runs out in 2016, the last year of a potential Romney-Ryan administration.

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, provided no specifics on what measures a President Romney would back, but suggested he would stand by responders and that he endorsed more aid from Washington.

"Gov. Romney supports government assistance to the victims of terrorism," Saul said.

In observing Tuesday's anniversary, Ryan joined numerous other colleagues who joined him in opposing the Zadroga Act. Many House Republicans mourned for the victims of 9/11 even as they linked the day to efforts to pass new legislation.

"We honor those who fell 11 years ago today. We honor those who fought to try to save some of those who died," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday at the Republicans' weekly press conference. "The best thing that we can do as a people to honor those individuals is to make sure that it never happens again, and we have looming massive defense cuts that this House has acted to substitute."

Cantor was echoed by House Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who suggested that Americans come together in the spirit of 9/11 to head off the looming defense cuts that will take effect due to the sequestration agreement Congress passed last year.

Cantor, McCarthy and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who also spoke, all voted against the 9/11 bill or skipped final passage.

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  • U.S Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, and Charles Schumer, D-NY, place American flags in names engraved in the border of one of the World Trade Center Memorial reflecting pools, during the 11th anniversary observance, in New York, Tuesday Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Justin Lane, Pool)

  • A man embraces a woman as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • An American flag flies over a man pausing near a reflecting pool at the National September 11 Memorial during the observance of the 11th anniversary of September 11 in New York, on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Todd Maisel, Pool, New York Daily News)

  • Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • A firefighter's hat rests on names of firefighters at the south reflecting pool who died in the attacks at the World Trade Center, during the 11th anniversary observance at the World Trade Center Memorial, in New York, Tuesday Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Justin Lane. Pool, EPA)

  • A woman holds a young boy as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • A woman becomes emotional while holding a photo of her father after reading his name as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • A boy observes a moment of silence as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, left, places a flag on a memorial site as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Todd Maisel, Pool)

  • Amelia Tedesco of Staten Island, N.Y. touches the name of her son-in-law Walter Baran of Staten Island, N.Y. during observances held on the eleventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, at the site in New York, September 11, 2012. Baran was killed on the 90th floor of the south tower during the attacks. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, Pool, Newsday)

  • A young boy scratches the name on paper as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Todd Maisel, Pool)

  • Two girls scratch names on paper as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Todd Maisel, Pool)

  • Family members of Belinda Pascua Domingo of New York place mementos on her name during observances held on the eleventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, at the site in New York, September 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, Newsday, Pool)

  • September 11 POOL image from New York

    Captain John Lam rolls up an etching of his uncle Stuart Louis on the South Tower pool wall at the National September 11 Memorial, for his aunt during observances on the eleventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Tuesday. Sept. 11, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Timothy A. Clary, Pool)

  • Nina Fisher, Mia Tinson

    Nina Fisher, sister of 9/11 victim Andrew Fisher, embraces her niece Mia Tinson, 9, at ceremonies marking the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 in New York. Begum, who is from Bangladesh, lost her nephew, Nural Miah and his wife Shakila Yasmin, two of the many Muslims who also died the attacks. New York City is observing the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. (AP Photo/John Moore, Pool

  • Tina Grazioso, left, looks at the name of her husband, John Grazioso, at the World Trade Center Memorial, who died in the attacks at the World Trade Center, during the 11th anniversary observance, in New York, Tuesday Sep. 11, 2012. At right is John Grazioso's sister Carolee Azzarello. (AP Photo/John Moore, Getty Images, Pool)

  • Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Childhood friends from Italy, Lucrezia Susca, 78, left, and Chiara Pesce, 75, center, hold photos of their grandchildren Grace Gollante-Susca and Danny Pesce, who were also friends and died together while working at Cantor Fitzgerald, as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, kneeling left, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, right, speak with Miah Afsaruddin at ceremonies for the eleventh anniversary of the attacks at the World Trade Center, in New York,Tuesday Sept. 11, 2012. Afsaruddin, from Bangladesh, lost his son Nural Miah and daughter-in-law Shakila Yasmin in the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/John Moore,Getty Images, POOL)

  • Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, far left, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, fifth left, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, fourth right, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, second right, attend as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • The World Trade Center Flag is presented as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • A woman becomes emotional after reading the name of her father as friends and relatives of the victims of 9/11 gather for a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, look over a reflecting pool during a ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Friends and families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, look over a reflecting pool during a ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 in New York. As in past years, thousands are expected to gather at the World Trade Center site in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to read the names of nearly 3,000 victims killed in the worst terror attack in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • A man paces a bouquet of flowers at a reflecting pool during a ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 in New York. As in past years, thousands are expected to gather at the World Trade Center site in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to read the names of nearly 3,000 victims killed in the worst terror attack in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Maria Rodriguez sits with photos of her son-in-law Emilio Ortiz as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center gather for a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center gather for a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center gather for a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • A firefighter makes a rubbing of a victim's name as friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center gather for a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • The tower known as 1 World Trade Center, left, the National September 11 Memorial, bottom left, and 4 World Trade Center, right, are bathed in light, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 in New York. Tuesday is the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Photos of victims of the attacks of September 11 and messages from their loved ones, are shown at a news conference, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 in New York. On the eve of the Sept. 11 anniversary, the faces and recorded voices of those who died have been unveiled as part of the future 9/11 Memorial Museum. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)