Washington, D.C.- A bipartisan group of Florida Congressmen and woman have co-sponsored the passage of the bipartisan Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act.
Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and Carlos Gimenez all expressed support for the bill, with Balart being the latest to do so earlier this week.
The act aims to provide firefighters and other first responders access to federal benefits if they develop cancer-related diseases due to their time in service.
Representative Gimenez floored the bill last March.
“As the only career firefighter serving in Congress, it’s an honor & a duty to introduce the bipartisan Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act,” said Gimenez.
🚨As the only career firefighter serving in Congress, it’s an honor & a duty to introduce the bipartisan Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act.
Our first responders go above and beyond the line of duty to protect our communities and deserve to have access to life-saving care. 🚒 pic.twitter.com/BzCTvs4A5q
— Rep. Carlos A. Gimenez (@RepCarlos) March 24, 2023
Currently, first responders killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty are eligible for federal benefits via the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program.
However, while heart attacks, strokes, and COVID-19 complications are presumed to be line of duty deaths for the purposes of PSOB, occupational cancer is not.
The act, relying on data showing a significant correlation between cancer development in firefighters during and after their service, aims to extend PSOB benefits to cover cancer.
New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell (D) sponsored the bill along with Jimenez.
“These brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day must have the utmost support from the federal government, especially those who have made drastic sacrifices in the line of duty,” said Rep. Pascrell.
The act would counteract fraud attempts by nullifying benefits to cases where “competent medical evidence establishes the cancer was unrelated to exposure in the line of duty”.
Currently circulating the House of Representatives as it seeks passage, the act remains in the House Judiciary committee until further notice.