WASHINGTON, DC (CBS4/AP)– Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican representing Colorado, is leading the passage of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The legislation will ensure that a victims’ compensation fund set up for first responders after the 9/11 attacks never runs out of money.

Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

“The work that they did wasn’t just for those in Manhattan who suffered incredible loss, but the work they carried forth for our country. They became symbols of our security, symbols of our freedoms, symbols of our country’s willingness, effort and tenacity to fight back,” said Gardner.

Lawmakers from both parties said they support the bill.

The collapse of the World Trade Center in September 2001 sent a cloud of thick dust billowing over Lower Manhattan. Fires burned for weeks. Thousands of construction workers, police officers, firefighters and others spent time working in the soot, often without proper respiratory protection.

The “Tribute in Light” memorial at New York’s World Trade Center site on March 11, 2002.

In the years since, many have seen their health decline, some with respiratory or digestive-system ailments that appeared almost immediately, others with illnesses that developed as they aged, including cancer.

More than 40,000 people have applied to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks. More than $5 billion in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.4 billion fund, with about 21,000 claims pending.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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