9/11 Responders Bristle At Utah Senator Mike Lee's Moves On Compensation Bill

Jul 19, 2019

Senator Mike Lee made national headlines this week for his role in delaying a vote on compensation for 9/11 first responders. Survivors said they don’t have time to wait. 

“Lying to his constituents is really not Utah values," said Danielle Barrani. "It’s not what we stand for.”

Lee blocked a Senate vote on a bill that would fund the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund in perpetuity through the year 2092. For Barrani, this is personal. She's a Salt Lake City native who flew to New York after 9/11 to volunteer at the World Trade Center site, and now runs an organization called the Sisterhood of Ground Zero.

“I actually have many 9/11 related illnesses," Barrani said. "Asthma, heart issues, lung issues, sinuses. There’s a lot of illnesses outside of cancer.”

Barrani said that Lee went back on a promise he made to her and other 9/11 survivors, when he said he would not stand in the way of their bill passing. The Victim Compensation Fund helps finance health benefits for first responders and survivors of the attacks.

“Now everyone has to go back down sick and dying to go lobby with their hat in their hand," Barrani said. "How much stress this causes the 9/11 community. Everyone has PTSD. When people are worrying how to take care of their families on top of this, we really need to take politics out of humanity.”

Lee reversed course again on Thursday, now saying that he’ll allow the bill to come to a vote, but with added amendments capping the amount of benefits for survivors. Barrani said he’s missing the point.

“How are we going to pay for it, how are we going to pay for it, instead of ‘how are we going to take care of people?’" she said. "How are we going to take care of people who in one of the worst moments our nation has ever experienced took care of us?”