U.S. Rep. Mark Takai was called out for special thanks Thursday on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show by one of the leading advocates for a bill that would renew funding for health care for first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Many of the police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who rushed into the heart of Manhattan after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers 14 years ago and worked around ground zero in the days and weeks following have suffered horrible health effects from that work.

Cancers, serious respiratory illnesses and other diseases have caused the deaths of many, while others live with debilitating illnesses. Nineteen have died since the 9/11 anniversary this year alone.

Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai is battling pancreatic cancer but made it in to the House to vote.

Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai is battling pancreatic cancer but made it in to the House to vote.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

In 2010, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — named for a first responder who died of respiratory illness in 2006 — to cover those professionals’ health needs. Part of that legislation expired in October, and the remainder will sunset at the end of the year. First responders, led by comedian and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, have mounted a highly visible, full-court lobbying press for renewal.

After months of advocacy work, the bill has amassed 266 House co-sponsors, but has yet to receive a floor vote. House Speaker Paul Ryan committed Thursday to passing the bill before year’s end, likely as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Senate President Mitch McConnell is reportedly prepared to pass it, as well.

But first responder and former Marine Dan Moynihan, appearing on Maddow’s Show, singled out Hawaii’s First District congressman for his help in pushing the bill forward.

“I know I mentioned him last time I was on the show, but he’s back on the Hill now, he’s recovering from cancer himself, but Congressman Mark Takai from the Hawaii 1st who has made sure he’s back in the District (of Columbia) now to vote for our bill when it comes up,” said Moynihan. “These are the amazing people who do go in and fight for us.”

Takai, who is battling pancreatic cancer, returned to work part-time only Tuesday of this week, casting his first vote in favor of a bill restricting tourist visas to enhance security around visitors in the wake of the recent Paris terror attacks. It was his first vote in a month.

NYPD Police Officer Dan Moynihan, right, on 9/11, working with other first responders in the wreckage of the World Trade Centers. Though the photo appears to have been taken at nighttime because of smoke and debris in the air, it was actually 11 a.m.

NYPD Police Officer Dan Moynihan, right, on 9/11, working with other first responders in the wreckage of the World Trade Centers. Though the photo appears to have been taken at nighttime because of smoke and debris in the air, it was actually 11 a.m.

Dan Moynihan

Moynihan elaborated further on the support of both Takai and the entire Hawaii delegation in a note and phone call to Civil Beat Friday morning, calling Takai “truly an outstanding advocate” for the measure.

“Let me be clear, Congresswoman (Tulsi) Gabbard, Senator (Brian) Schatz and Senator Hirono are co-sponsors for the Zadroga Bill, as well. However, Congressman Takai signed on as a co-sponsor without the need of a meeting with his staff and welcomed me into his office every chance he could afterward with one question, ‘What can I do for the 9/11 community to help?’

“He also spoke on the House floor just before a looming government shutdown and shamed (or tried to shame, anyway) his House counterparts into supporting our bill instead of shutting the government down over politics. Now he makes his way back to D.C. to be sure he can cast his vote for important bills, ours included. This is why he deserved my, our recognition.”

Takai has said his physicians detected his cancer early and that his chances of recovery are good, but he continues to undergo chemotherapy and other treatment. “It has been a pretty difficult few months, but I’m thankful for all the awesome doctors and nurses who have helped me through this,” Takai said.

Maddow, fighting back tears as Moynihan recognized Takai, as well as support from Stewart and Maddow herself, closed the segement saying, “Hope to have you back as soon as it passes.”

See the entire segment here:

 

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