For Immediate Release: July 8, 2008
Contacts: Joe Soldevere (Maloney), 212-860-0606
Shin Inouye (Nadler), 202-225-5635
Reps. Maloney & Nadler
Protest Firing of 9/11 Health Czar
-Dr. John Howard, Advocate for Sick WTC Workers, Sacked on July 3rd-
New York, NY – Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and sick and injured World Trade Center responders gathered today at Ground Zero to demand that the Bush Administration reverse its decision to fire Dr. John Howard, Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). As NIOSH Director, Dr. Howard administered federally-funded health care programs for 9/11 first responders exposed to Ground Zero toxins.
Also today, Maloney, Nadler, and Reps. Eliot Engel and Edolphus Towns sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Julie Gerberding demanding a meeting this week to discuss Dr. Howard’s firing. A full copy of that letter follows below. In a related effort, New York Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer also sent a letter to Secretary Leavitt today urging him to reconsider the termination of Dr. Howard and calling for a detailed account of the reasons Dr. Howard was removed from his position.
“Only the Bush Administration would fire a respected public servant who has received near-universal praise for doing a good job,” said Rep. Maloney. “Dr. Howard is out of a job because he wanted to help the heroes of 9/11 and his superiors didn’t. We demand that the administration take back this outrageous slap at sick 9/11 responders and reappoint Dr. Howard to a well-deserved second term.”
"In another stunning example of the White House's incompetence, one of the few Administration officials working on 9/11 health issues has been fired," said Rep. Nadler. "Dr. Howard is a dedicated public servant who has sought to provide much needed assistance to the living victims of 9/11. President Bush is quick to use 9/11 for a photo opportunity, but when it comes to taking action on 9/11 health issues, he consistently fails. I strongly urge him to reconsider his decision and ask Dr. Howard to stay on. It doesn't make sense for President Bush to change pitchers in the ninth inning of his Administration. At this point, 9/11 victims would be better served by allowing Dr. Howard to finish the game rather than trying to find his replacement."
Rep. Eliot Engel said, “Dr. Howard has been praised by all involved for his work in helping those made ill following the terror attack on 911. This Administration has again decided that it will always choose ideology over competence. Dr. Howard should be allowed to continue the good work he has been doing as Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The people he did so much to help deserve no less.”
Just before the July 4th holiday, the Bush Administration informed Dr. Howard that he would not be reappointed to a second term as NIOSH Director, despite praise from industry and labor interests regarding Dr. Howard’s service protecting American workers.
In February 2006, the New York congressional delegation successfully urged the Bush Administration to appoint Dr. Howard to serve as the federal government's coordinator to oversee the response to Ground Zero health impacts (Click here for a copy of HHS's letter announcing Dr. Howard's appointment).
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-14)
Office: (212) 860-0606
Mobile: (646) 831-1649
July 8, 2008
The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
Dear Secretary Leavitt and Director Gerberding:
We are appalled by your decision to fire Dr. Howard, demand that you explain your decision, and urge you to reappoint him immediately.
As 9/11 Health Coordinator, Dr. Howard oversees the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment program, which provides federally-funded health care for 9/11 first responders and others exposed to Ground Zero toxins. Dr. Howard has received accolades for his outstanding work on behalf of the heroes of 9/11.
Additionally, Dr. Howard has received near-universal praise from industry and labor interests alike for his service protecting American workers. He has proven to be an outstanding public servant, and political ideology should not drive him out.
Secretary Leavitt has already promised to meet with the New York Delegation on 9/11 health issues, but to date has refused to schedule this meeting. Accordingly, we will plan to meet with you on Thursday, July 10 at 1:00pm in 2257 Rayburn House Office Building to discuss this matter, unless you propose an alternate time. If you will not reverse your decision to fire Dr. Howard, then we expect to hear at this meeting your reasons for letting him go. Please contact Ben Chevat of Rep. Maloney's office to confirm your attendance at the meeting.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY