Schumer announces 9/11 widows and children will gain access to victims’ fund in pending spending bill

Schumer’s Plan Amends US Victims Of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund & Makes 9/11 Widows & Children Eligible For Payments By Raising Family Cap

In a major win for 9/11 widows and children, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced improvements to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund today that will allow more compensation to be delivered to direct victims. That compensation includes no federal taxpayer dollars, but rather, is funded through penalties imposed on states that are found to be sponsors of terror, such as Iran. Schumer says the deal he led will allow 9/11 widows and families to rest a little easier.

“By working to ensure 9/11 widows and children gain access to the special terror victims fund, many families will now rest a little easier,” Schumer said. “New Yorkers—more than anyone—know the personal and financial costs that the 9/11 attacks continue to deliver every single day. For widows and kids, just compensation will never replace the loved one they lost, but it will make a difference in living a life to the fullest, paying for college, raising a family, all the things these courageous Americans would have done alongside their beloved family member.”

Schumer explained that the just-reached bipartisan deal, which he reached with U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsay Graham, R-S.C, expands victims’ eligibility to the longstanding U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund. His legislation amends that fund to establish fairness and equity for victims of horrific acts of international terrorism. His legislation will be included in the upcoming spending bill being voted on this week in both chambers.

Specifically, his legislation accomplishes the following goals:

  • Clarifying that September 11th widows and children are eligible to be paid by the Fund for the incontrovertible pain and suffering they have endured for decades, as well as a group of Tehran hostages who were previously unable to access the Fund.
  • Dividing the Fund in half between 9/11 and non-9/11 claimants, such as the hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Iran and the victims of the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing. By splitting the Fund, Congress recognizes that victims of terror should not be pitted against each other in their valid attempts to seek compensation for their losses. As a result, all claimants in the Fund will be compensated more quickly and at higher rates.
  • Increasing the overall family cap on the 9/11 side of the Fund, recognizing that widows and children are awarded higher claims based on their close relationship with their deceased loves ones.
  • Re-opening the application period for the next award distribution so that newly eligible claimants do not miss out on any further compensation.
  • Extending the Fund for a fresh 10 years to guarantee more compensation to victims. It will now expire in 2030.
  • Increasing the cap on the funds assessed from sanction violations that sustain the Fund, in order to grow the overall compensation available to claimants.
  • On the 9/11 side of the Fund, reducing attorneys’ fees from 25% to 15%.

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