The catastrophic events of September 11, 2001 took place in Jerry’s district and profoundly affected him both personally and in his work. In addition to the nearly 3,000 lives lost, the attacks resulted in the utter devastation of Lower Manhattan’s infrastructure, economy, and environment.
Jerry used his position to help New York through the tragedy, leading the fight in Congress – and in opposition to the Bush Administration – to secure $20 billion for recovery work, health care, and reconstruction. Here at home, immediately following the attacks, he convened the “Ground Zero Elected Officials Task Force” to coordinate the delivery of critical aid and supplies to the residents and businesses of Lower Manhattan.
When the World Trade Center collapsed, hundreds of tons of asbestos, lead, glass fiber, steel, concrete, and other contaminants formed a massive cloud of toxic dust and smoke which blanketed the area. When Bush Administration officials misled New Yorkers by telling them that their “air was safe to breathe,” Jerry spearheaded the effort to demand the truth and hold the federal government accountable for the preventable harms done to first responders and survivors. Jerry’s work to prove that the federal government had lied – culminating in his dramatic delivery of former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman before Congress – established the foundation for the necessity for federal care and compensation for 9/11 responders and survivors. And, he led the multi-year effort to push the Environmental Protection Agency to do its job and comprehensively test and clean the areas that were contaminated, leading the Daily News’ Juan Gonzales to write that, “Of all the politicians in this town, Nadler has fought the hardest to get EPA to assume responsibility for indoor cleanup.”
In the wake of the health crisis that followed the environmental tragedy, Jerry succeeded in delivering federal funds to provide medical monitoring and treatment for first responders and rescue workers, area residents, workers and students who became sick through exposure to Ground Zero contamination. And, in his most significant legislative initiative to date, he, along with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, sponsored the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act – which passed Congress in 2010 and was signed into law in early 2011 – which provides ongoing funding for health care and compensation for 9/11 first responders and survivors.
And, in 2011, Jerry’s legislation to establish an official 9/11 commemorative medal was put into effect, with minting begun of up to 2,000,000 medals, whose sale directly benefits the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero.