11/18/2010 02:13 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Time to Pass the 9/11 Health Bill Is Now

On September 11, 2001, when thousands of innocent men and women lost their lives, tens of thousands more came to their assistance. We as a nation saw greater acts of heroism than we could ever have imagined: first responders from all over New York and all over the country came to Ground Zero to save innocent lives, provide proper burial for lives that were lost, and assist in the enormous effort to clean up and recover from that devastating attack on our nation.

Tragically, in the nine years since the attack, more than 30,000 responders and survivors from across the country have required medical treatment due to their exposure to Ground Zero toxins. Now, they are waiting for Congress to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to ensure that they can continue to get the care they need.

Our 9/11 heroes didn't think twice that day. Bound by duty, a love of our nation and their fellow Americans, they joined hand in hand with heroes from every corner of America to come to our rescue.

Now, it's long past time we came to theirs.

Nine and a half years ago, no one could have imagined that our nation would ignore our duty to the 9/11 heroes.

Nine and a half years ago, no one could have imagined that our country would leave these heroes behind.

But over all these years, this bill has been tied up by politics as usual in Congress.

This should not be a partisan fight. We have an undeniable, moral obligation to provide our 9/11 heroes with all the care they need. In September, the bill passed the US House of Representatives. It's time to keep our promise to them, and pass this bill in the U.S. Senate during the lame duck session of Congress. We can't afford to wait any longer. We've already lost too many of our heroes and loved ones to the toxins of Ground Zero. And we're losing more each day.

On Tuesday, I was proud to stand with several of my colleagues in Congress as well as New York City Mayor Bloomberg and many of our brave 9/11 heroes, to call for the US Senate to act on this crucial legislation this year. Video of the event is below:

I've urged my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do what they know is right, and support this legislation. To that end, I've received support from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bypass a lengthy committee process and bring this bill straight to floor for a vote in the U.S. Senate.

The men and women who lived through and came to our rescue on 9/11 were not Democrats or Republicans or Independents. They were Americans first and foremost and so were the people they saved.

It's time for us in Congress to honor their sacrifices by coming together as Americans, and keeping our promise to provide them with the care they need to save their lives.