A retired New York firefighter who survived the Sept. 11 attacks is speaking out after he claims he was snubbed by Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who’s catching heat for his criticism of a Democratic lawmaker’s recent comments on 9/11.
Rob Serra, who uses a wheelchair and lost several colleagues when Muslim extremists hijacked four planes and flew two of them into the World Trade Center towers and one into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, told the New York Daily News he tried introducing himself to Crenshaw last month while lobbying congressional members about renewing funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
But the GOP lawmaker claimed he was “too busy,” Serra said, and told the former fireman that his office would reach out. It’s been two weeks, and Serra said he still hasn’t heard back.
“[Rep. Crenshaw] really didn’t want to talk to us,” Serra, 39, said in a phone interview with the paper. “He said he didn’t have any information and that his staff would take care of it.”
The VCF, which provides compensation to first responders and other victims harmed in the 9/11 attacks, has been forced to reduce its payouts in recent months, thanks in part to resistance from Senate Republicans and lack of support from House Republicans, including Crenshaw, who’ve been dragging their feet in granting its renewal. Crenshaw, unlike some other GOP House members, is not a co-sponsor of the current renewal bill.
In February, NPR reported that the fund has cut payouts by as much as 70 percent ahead of its December 2020 expiration date and “still has about 19,000 additional unpaid claims to address.” A status report filed by the fund that same month revealed that over 81,404 Americans rely on VCF. Almost 400 of them hail from Crenshaw’s state.
Serra, who lives in Staten Island, said he was reminded of the snub by the Texas lawmaker after Crenshaw slammed Rep. Ilhan Omar (D- Minn.) this week over her recently resurfaced comments on the terror attacks. Crenshaw took Omar to task for describing the 9/11 terrorists as “some people who did something” during an event in Los Angeles last month.
“First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something.’ Unbelievable,” Crenshaw tweeted Wednesday, linking to a clip that only showed half of the congresswoman’s comments.
Serra said although he found Omar’s remarks to be “insensitive,” Crenshaw has no room to rebuke her, especially considering that Omar is a co-sponsor of the VCF bill.
““I think it’s highly insensitive to describe what happened on 9/11 that way,” he told the Daily News of Omar’s comments. “[Crenshaw] is the wrong person to be making that criticism, though. He’s certainly not showing his support.”
Freshman Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has also blasted Crenshaw and fellow Republicans for attacking Rep. Omar, and noted the hypocrisy of it all.
“You refuse to co-sponsor the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund, yet have the audacity to drum resentment towards Ilhan with completely out-of-context quotes,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at Crenshaw. “In 2018, right-wing extremists were behind almost ALL US domestic terrorist killings. Why don’t you go do something about that?”
In a follow-up tweet, she wrote: “[Omar] has done more for 9/11 families than the GOP who won’t even support healthcare for 1st responders — yet are happy to weaponize her [Muslim] faith.”