Money isn’t everything for Scott Aline, a member of Operating Engineers Local 138 in New York, who spent months cleaning up the toxic remains of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

But it might have helped save his health and his house and prevent the pain he and his fiancé, Lee Abramowski, suffered when they had to give up their daughter for adoption because they couldn’t afford to care for her.

Aline and other workers on what was known after the Twin Tower collapse as “the pile,” feel forgotten by the Bush administration. Together with members of the California Nurses Association and armed with an AFL-CIO support letter, several hundred of these workers descended on Washington Feb. 26 to tell their stories and seek more aid, especially for health care.

After the terrorist attacks 50,000 workers, including police, fire fighters and construction men and women, were exposed to toxic fumes from the burning Trade Center. Today, these workers continue to fall ill from silicosis, bronchitis, pneumonia, lung cancer, cancerous polyps, leukemia, and post traumatic stress disorder.

Families are also devastated as many have been forced to retire on disability, many others have died and still others are dying now.

The federal government response has been to propose a temporary set of five clinics in New York City and one in New Jersey to diagnose and treat illness that the clinics deem to have been caused by the Twin Tower collapse. Bush has proposed only $25 million for the clinics for the year starting Oct. 1 and he does not want to make the program permanent.

Congress, led by the New York delegation, responded last year by voting for $160 million. Speakers on Feb. 26 said, however, that even that larger amount won’t cover all the rescue workers and their families. New York City estimates are that $250 million will be needed annually to cover the health care costs of workers involved.

Doctors have told Aline, who is 46, that he now has the lungs of a 70 year old man.

Aline spent many days searching for and collecting human body parts from some of the 3,000 dead. Both he and his fiancé are now diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome.

They are in a rented apartment because they lost their home after his income of $2,700 per month fell to $1,100 – the amount of his social security disability check. The couple says they are asking people for food, clothing and fuel.

Lawmakers, led by Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, both New York Democrats and by Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), pledged their support for making the programs permanent. Kucinich blasted the administration for its willingness to spend billions on the war in Iraq and so little for the workers who actually responded to the terrorist attacks.

Nadler said there have been two cover-ups. He cited the first as when Bush and then New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani said the pile was safe to work on without protective gear and the second as an attempt now to hide the extent of illness among rescue workers.

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