2007_01_borjabush.jpgCeasar Borja Jr., the 21 year old son of a cop who volunteered at Ground Zero and died last week, met with President Bush yesterday to discuss funding for September 11's first responders. With Bush in town for a State of Economy address - and having just announced $25 million in additional funding for WTC-related illness - the President had a 15-private meeting with Borja, his mother, brother and sister. Borja wrote about the experience for the Daily News:

He said, "You're all right, Ceasar," and he shook my hand.

We thanked him for the $25million he put in the budget for Ground Zero responders. He said something like, "It's only a beginning. It's just a beginning."

I don't want to put words in Bush's mouth by trying to repeat exactly what I remember him saying. But I could tell from his demeanor that he was sincere, and everything he said to us was positive. Nothing was neutral, and best of all, nothing was negative.

My dad didn't get a full inspector's funeral because the NYPD doesn't recognize that he died in the line of duty, and the doctors won't draw a direct connection.

Bush asked us if that made any difference for our benefits - he was really concerned about that. I said we would be taken care of.

But I said, "Mr. President, my father did die in the line of duty because my father's pulmonary fibrosis was directly connected to his service at Ground Zero."

At the start of the meeting, Bush told Borja, "You made the world listen," to which Borja's mother said, "That's right - he made you listen." The President even endorsed a note to Borja's 12 year old sister's teacher, explaining why she had to miss school.

During the White House press briefing, press secretary Tony Snow said the meeting was not a political meeting, but rather one to pass on condolences. Yet Snow also said, "Well, I think -- look, the President is going to be dealing with a grieving young man and his family. The one thing we can assure him, from a policy point of view, is that we will plug the gaps in any coverage and anybody who needs treatment will get it. Period."

Borja attended last week's State of the Union address, hours after learning his father died, as a guest of Senator Hillary Clinton. Clinton has proposed $1.9 billion in additional funding for September 11-related illnesses.