'Promise Broken': N.Y. to Lose 9/11 Aid
By DEVLIN BARRETT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional budget negotiators have decided to take back $125 million in Sept. 11 aid from New York, which had fought to keep the money to treat sick and injured ground zero workers, lawmakers said Tuesday.
New York officials had sought for months to hold onto the funding, originally meant to cover increased worker compensation costs stemming from the 2001 terror attacks.
But a massive labor and health spending bill moving fitfully through House-Senate negotiations would take back that funding, lawmakers said.
``It seems that despite our efforts the rescission will stand, very sadly, and that is something of a promise broken,'' said Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y. ``We will try hard in the coming weeks, but ultimately Congress will have something of a black eye over this.''
A spokeswoman for Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., said the congressman also had been told New York would lose the funding in whatever compromise version of the spending bill finally reaches the floor.
The tug-of-war over the $125 million began earlier this year when the White House proposed taking the money back because the state had not yet spent it.
New York protested, saying the money was part of the $20 billion pledged by President Bush to help rebuild after the Sept. 11 attacks. Health advocates said the money is needed to treat current and future illnesses among ground zero workers.
The Senate voted last month to let New York keep the $125 million, but the House made no such move. House and Senate budget negotiators then decided to take the money back, lawmakers and aides said.
Top New York fire officials recently lobbied Congress to keep the funding. Fire and police officials say they worry that many people will develop long-term lung and mental health problems from their time working on the burning pile of toxic debris at ground zero and they want to use the money to help them.
Fossella and other New York officials hope they can win the money back in an emergency spending measure, expected later this year, that would pay for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.
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