New Ground Zero Congressman Dan Goldman vows to win 9/11 health funding after setbacks

WASHINGTON — The new congressman for Ground Zero is vowing to make sure the 9/11 health program gets its funding problems permanently fixed.

The World Trade Center Health Program, which serves some 120,000 responders and survivors of the terror attacks of 2001, had been facing a 10-year $3 billion deficit. Legislation that would have plugged that hole and fixed funding problems in the future never made it across the finish line in 2022.

Instead, New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand managed to add $1 billion to the year-end omnibus government funding bill that should get the program through up to five years.

“We were very disappointed that the $3 billion was not included in the omnibus, but we’re happy that Sen. Gillibrand got her $1 billion amendment passed that will at least provide a stopgap,” said newly elected Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman, who won the new district that includes lower Manhattan and part of Brooklyn.

The stopgap funding ensures there will be no immediate crisis for the program, but it leaves the matter unsettled for future, unpredictable Congresses.

Gillibrand and Long Island GOP Rep. Andrew Garbarino are expected to roll out a bill early this month to fix the health program’s longer-term money woes, which includes a funding formula that has not kept up with inflation or the growing severe illnesses among the 9/11 population, especially the tens of thousands who have cancer.

Goldman told the Daily News he’s all-in on that effort.

“As somebody who lived in lower Manhattan on 9/11 who, smelled the fumes from Ground Zero, was there when the public and the first responders were told that Ground Zero was safe — which of course turned out to be completely false — I am determined and dedicated and committed to making sure that everyone who has suffered any health considerations from 9/11 gets free and full health care.”

Goldman would be taking up the mantle of both Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who left the district after his West Side home was drawn out of it in redistricting, and former Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who lost to Nadler.

With the GOP in charge of the new Congress, Goldman may have to build some bridges. Goldman was the lead staff lawyer who helped prosecute then-President Donald Trump in the Senate’s first impeachment trial that so infuriated most Republicans.

“I am eager to find common ground with Republicans,” Goldman said, and predicted that he could, especially with some of the Republicans who won in New York swing districts this past November.

“Republican members in those districts are not going to win the next election by going back to their district and saying that they investigated Hunter Biden’s laptop and they impeached [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas,” Goldman said. “They’re going to have to deliver results. And that is an opportunity for those of us willing and eager to work across the aisle to actually deliver results for all New Yorkers.”