Skip to Content

Press Releases

Reps. Lawler, Gottheimer, Malliotakis, and Goldman Introduce Long-Awaited Legislation to Help American Victims of Terror and Their Families

  • USVSST Fund Photo 1
  • USVSST Fund Photo 2
  • USVSST Fund Photo 3
  • USVSST Fund Photo 4

Today, Rep. Mike Lawler (NY-17) released the following statement after formally introducing the American Victims of Terror Compensation Act, which is co-led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), and Dan Goldman (NY-10). He was joined by Reps. Gottheimer and Malliotakis and victims advocacy groups for a press conference at the US Capitol. The victims and family members of victims included those impacted by: 9/11, the 1983 Beirut Embassy Bombing, TWA Flight 847, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the attack on the USS Pueblo, the recent October 7th attacks on Israel, the 1998 East African Embassy Bombings, and other terror attacks.

The American Victims of Terror Compensation Act would provide for an immediate distribution in 2024 from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (USVSST Fund), and helps ensure funding is available going forward. It requires an annual pay out from the USVSST Fund to its participants going forward, an annual report to Congress on the Fund, a GAO report on quality of administration and recommendations every 3 years, and expands the USVSST Fund personnel from 5 to 10 people.

“The current structure of the USVSST Fund has left it in need of these crucial corrections to ensure additional funding for years to come,” said Congressman Lawler (NY-17). “The American Victims of Terror Compensation Act will help set this right and help families in the 17th District and across the country.”

“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation which will ensure that families of victims of state-sponsored terrorism continue to receive the funding they deserve, especially for the families and victims of 9/11, which impacted so many in the New York region, including in my district,” concluded Congressman Lawler (NY-17). “What we cannot do as a Congress is let this fund run dry and leave rightful victims without sufficient support - the American Victims of Terror Compensation Act will ensure it doesn’t.”

“We must never forget the lives lost during the September 11th terror attacks, including the 750 individuals from New Jersey. The best way to honor these victims of 9/11 and their families — and all those affected by state-sponsored terror attacks — is to ensure that they receive full justice and accountability against their perpetrators,” said U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan American Victims of Terror Compensation Act to make sure that victims and their families can get the relief that they deserve.”

“The USVSST Fund has failed to operate as Congress originally intended, leading to repeated frustration and heartbreak for victims of state sponsored terrorism,” said Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11). “I am proud to continue my work on behalf of victims of terrorism by cosponsoring this legislation, and although financial compensation cannot bring their loved ones back, families in my district and across the country can begin to rebuild their lives with the funds they are entitled to through their judgments. In 2022 I worked tirelessly on the Lump Sum Catch Up Payment, an effort to compensate widows and children of 9/11 who had been unfairly excluded from the fund in prior years. Now, our American Victims of Terror Compensation Act will fulfill Congress' promise to "Never Forget,” and solidify our nation’s support for those who have been scarred by horrific acts of terrorism against our country.”

“We must always strive to provide justice for the American families who have been victim to state-sponsored terrorism,” Congressman Dan Goldman (NY-10) said. “As the Representative for Lower Manhattan – which was forever changed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks – I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to do just that. It is incumbent on Congress to ensure that our families who were impacted by terrorism never lose the support provided by the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.”

“We are incredibly grateful to Reps. Lawler, Gottheimer, Malliotakis, Goldman, and all of the original cosponsors of this bill for their leadership and commitment to delivering justice. We are a coalition of thousands of American victims who were injured, killed, or lost loved ones as a result of state sponsored terrorism. Many of us were serving our country when attacked; others were simply going about their daily lives,” said Angela Mistrulli, who lost her father in the 9/11 attacks, and Clayton Zook, an Air Force veteran injured in the Khobar Towers attack. “We all have one thing in common: an act of terror left our lives irreparably changed. For years, we have felt as though the tragedies we suffered were forgotten or overlooked–we felt that the justice Congress promised us was falling out of reach. Justice for the victims of state sponsored terror has not come easy, but Reps. Lawler, Gottheimer, Goldman, and Malliotakis are now showing it is possible. Some of us have waited decades, and too many have been lost waiting for justice to be served. We urge all members to act now by joining this critical step to make sure Congress’s promise is fulfilled.” 

Congressman Lawler is one of the most bipartisan members of the 118th Congress and represents New York's 17th Congressional District, which is just north of New York City and contains all or parts of Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, and Westchester Counties.

Video of the press conference is available at this link, and the full text of the bill is available at this link.