Congress takes back September 11 aid money

| Tue Nov. 15, 2005 9:35 PM EST

For some time now, New York officials have done their best to hold on to $125 million in aid that was originally intended to help cover increased worker compensation costs originating from the September 11 attacks. The city was saving the money to use for the first responders who are likely to develop long-term lung problems from working around the debris, as well as mental health problems from working at the disaster site.

When the White House learned the money had not yet been spent, administration officals decided to try and take it back. The Senate voted to let New York keep the funding, but the House of Representatives did not follow. Senate and house budget negotiators have now decided to take the money back

A week after the September 11 attacks, EPA director Christine Todd Whitman announced to the nation that the air around the World Trade Center was safe to breathe, despite the fact that no one had enough information to make such a statement. In the weeks following the attacks, the Bush administration suppressed warnings by the Environmental Protection Agency that that there were health hazards associated with the toxic debris around the World Trade Center. Later, it was discovered that countless New Yorkers had developed lung problems. It is still unknown what the ultimate effect of the pollution will be, but it is more than reasonable to think that $125 million would help deal with it.