NAPO MESSAGE 12.23.10: 9/11 First Responder Health Care Bill (The James Zadroga Act)

Dear Members,

In 1961, President Kennedy repeated what was already an old saying: “Victory has one hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.” Now that the James Zadroga 9/11 health care bill has finally passed the Congress, you can rest assured that every police group under the sun will claim credit. Please take a look at our press release and website for a recognition of all the groups that worked long and hard on this. Most of them are NAPO groups, especially the police unions belonging to the NYPD and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey PD. Recognition also deserves to go to the IAFF and FLEOA, who did so much to effectively represent their members in the firefighter and federal law enforcement ranks.

But you also deserve to know how much of a role your Director of Governmental Affairs, Rachel Hedge, played behind the scenes to get this legislation over the goal line as time ran out for the 111th Congress:

1. The bill had already passed the House.

2. It was facing an uphill struggle in the Senate, and in fact had already failed one vote in the Senate.

3. It was Senate Republicans who had concern about the bill, especially cost.

4. Senate Republicans thus became the key to final passage or defeat.

5. NAPO’s Director of Governmental affairs, Rachel Hedge, has served as staff to not just one but two Republican Senators in this very Congress.

6. Because of Mrs. Hedge’s professional contacts, her solid reputation on the Hill, and her insider’s knowledge of whom to approach to get stuff done, NAPO was able to start breaking through the logjam in the Senate.

7. In particular, NAPO’s emphasis on finding practical, workable funding solutions that would satisfy both political parties helped save this legislation.

In the end, it was this strategy that finally overcame Republican objections while preserving Democrat votes. NAPO’s member groups from all over the country also deserve thanks for their help in joining with their brother and sister officers from the New York City and the Port Authority Police Department associations in keeping the pressure on to pass this bill.

So in the coming weeks and months, as different groups compete for credit, I thought it was important that you know up front what really happened behind the scenes.

Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and peaceful New Year.


William J. Johnson

Executive Director

National Association of Police Organizations, Inc.

317 South Patrick Street

Alexandria, Virginia 22314