President Donald Trump has officially signed into US law a bill that will ensure compensation to families impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks will continue. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund will now be fully funded through to 2092. This will prevent the constant taffy pull for renewal on Capitol Hill. Not surprisingly, fiscal conservatives are none too happy.
A Bipartisan Success?
There is little doubt that during the last few years there have been few bipartisan successes; the divided nature of Congress has seen much lawmaking fall to party lines. But not in this case. The House voted to pass this bill by 402-12, and last week the Senate followed suit, voting 97-2.
The senators who rejected the bill were Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). Paul stated that while he backed the work of first responders, his conscience wouldn’t allow him to encourage something that increased spending. He tweeted:
“While I support our heroic first responders, I can’t in good conscience vote for legislation which to my dismay remains unfunded… We have a nearly trillion dollar deficit and $22 trillion in debt. Spending is out of control.”
Despite the overwhelming support for the compensation package – and the acknowledgment that the bill would cost a lot more than the $7.8 billion already spent – fiscal conservatives are wary of it having an almost open-ended budget.
Paul added: “As I have done on countless issues, including disaster relief and wall funding, I will always take a stand against borrowing more money to pay for programs rather than setting priorities and cutting waste.”
A Thorny Issue
The Sept. 11 attack is an emotional issue for just about everyone. Trump is no exception.
Before the president proudly signed the bill, he spoke to the attending emergency service personnel, saying:
“Today we come together as one nation to support our Sept. 11 heroes and to care for their families … and to renew our eternal vow, never ever forget… Over the last two decades, you have endured hardship with amazing grace and incredible grit. You lift up our communities and you remind us what it means to all stand united, one nation under God,” he said. “Today, we strive to fulfill our sacred duty to you.”
A program of benefits and compensations for the first responders and their families was always going to pass. But is an almost open-ended fund a sensible move when the nation has trillions of dollars in debt? Especially because it is funded for the next 73 years.
Trump was elected to the presidency for a number of reasons, one of them being that he was a successful businessman who would put the country on the right track economically. The economy is booming, jobs are up, employment is up, wages are up, and taxes are down. He has, so far, an impressive record in terms of driving the engine of industry. But will his willingness to back programs without addressing where those funds come from going to be a problem for budget hawks when it comes time to head to the ballot box?