January 2nd, 2011
04:16 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama signed the 9/11 health bill into law in Hawaii on Sunday, White House spokesman Bill Burton said.
Obama signed the bill during his Hawaiian vacation. No signing ceremony was held.
The bill made a long journey in order to get signed. A printed copy of the bill flew with a White House staffer from Washington to the Hawaiian island of Oahu, so Obama could sign it from his vacation rental in Kailua.
"It came out with a member of the staff so that it could be signed in a timely fashion," Burton said.
The legislation, officially titled the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, provides health coverage to first responders to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who have been battling for federal help for years.
After a contentious battle in which some Republicans suggested the legislation was creating a new entitlement program, it finally passed during the lame-duck session of Congress in December.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, hailed the bill's signing in a statement.
"After a long, arduous path with several near-defeats, this bill is finally law," he said. "The heroes who rushed to Ground Zero in the hours and days after the attacks will not be forgotten. These first responders were like veterans, and this law keeps with a time-honored tradition of standing by our veterans when they get harmed answering the call. We will begin work immediately to make sure this law gets renewed for another five years."
–CNN's Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report from Honolulu.