Obama signed the bill during his Hawaiian vacation, with no signing ceremony held. In a statement issued later, the president said he was “honored” to sign the bill, which pays for health care for responders believed to have been sickened by pollution at the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York.
“We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers, and first responders who risked their lives to save others,” Obama said. “I believe this is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks.”
The bill made a long journey in order to get signed. A printed copy of the bill flew with a White House staffer from Washington to the Hawaiian island of Oahu, so Obama could sign it from his vacation rental in Kailua.
“It came out with a member of the staff so that it could be signed in a timely fashion,” Burton said.
The legislation, officially titled the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, provides health coverage to workers who helped clear the rubble and search for human remains at the site of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. The $4.2 billion legislation also reopens the federal Victim Compensation Fund to provide economic relief to those harmed by the attacks, which killed more than 2,700 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.