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Rep. Lawler introduces bill aimed at shoring up terror victim compensation fund

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A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has introduced legislation Thursday to shore up a fund that compensates victims of terror attacks, including Sept. 11. 

Rep. Mike Lawler formally introduced the bill, which updates the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund. New York Reps. Nicole Malliotakis and Dan Goldman and New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer are co-leading the legislation. 

“The intention here is to make sure that the fund is fully-funded on a continuing basis, to make sure there’s more oversight and accountability,” Lawler said. “This legislation has been a long time coming.”

Advocates said the decade-old fund, which was created to provide payouts to individuals who obtained court judgments against state sponsors of terrorism, is not working as designed.

The bipartisan bill looks to buttress those finances by ensuring fines and penalties that the U.S. Department of Justice collects from certain terror-related cases are indeed put toward to the fund. It also establishes an additional funding mechanism. 

In addition, the bill calls for annual distributions to victims starting this year. 

The bill is welcomed news for Angela Mistrulli, whose father, a carpenter, was killed on Sept. 11 in the North Tower. 

She spoke at Thursday’s press conference, advocating for lawmakers to act.

“I think that [my father] would be extremely proud that this bill is going to take care of almost 20,000 victims of terrorism, and set up a place for victims of the future that they don’t have to go through the 20 years of struggling and fighting that we had to go through,” she said. 

The legislation still needs to get through both the House and the Senate. It has the backing of New Yorkers across the political spectrum, from House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik to prominent Democrats like Reps. Grace Meng and Jerry Nadler. 

Lawler’s team said the bill would also help victims of other incidents, including TWA Flight 847, the 1983 Beirut Embassy Bombing, the attack on the USS Pueblo and the recent Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

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