Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday to appoint Kenneth Feinberg to administer the fund created by a recent law that provides health care and other benefits for some 9-11 first responders.
Feinberg — the current “pay czar” for the Troubled Assets Relief Fund — volunteered in a letter to Schumer to oversee the fund, which designates $4.3 billion to assist responders who became sick after in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. Feinberg offered to do the job pro bono.
As attorney general, Holder has the sole authority to select the fund’s administrator.
In addition to his role in administering TARP, Feinberg had been appointed by former Attorney General John Ashcroft to oversee a 9/11 victim compensation fund — a position which he held for nearly three years without pay.
Feinberg also was named by President Barack Obama last summer as the independent administrator of a $20 billion escrow fund to deal with damages created by the Gulf oil spill.
“We must ensure fairness and efficiency and I can think of no one more qualified and respected than Ken Feinberg to ensure this compensation system immediately addresses the healthcare needs of the heroes who were sickened after coming to the defense of their country,” Schumer said in a statement. “Our first 9-11 first responders have waited long enough. He did a first-rate job as the special master of the original 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund and I have every confidence he will do the same now.”
The 9-11 James Zadroga Health and Compensation Fund was the final bill passed by 111th Congress and was signed into law by Obama earlier this week. The law requires the fund to be operational within 180 days of being signed. Schumer wants it up and running by the end of May 2011. Schumer, along with fellow New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, noted that with Feinberg at the helm, reaching that goal would be “entirely possible.”