12/21/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
At what point did Senator Mitch McConnell and company abandon doing what is right in order to try and score cheep political points? With outrage growing over the Republicans’ lack of heart on the issue of the Zadroga 9/11 first responders healthcare bill, how many will finally do what is right and vote for cloture on the bill and move it forward to be signed into law by President Barack Obama? Outrage over the filibuster of the bill began to grow with the recent decision by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show to spend a half hour discussing the bill.
Indeed, Republicans do not want to discuss this bill at all. Fox News’ Shep Smith continued to go after the Republicans for their opposition to this bill even naming names of those who would not appear on his show to discuss the bill. He said:
“We called a lot of Republicans today who are in office at the moment. These are the ones who told us ‘no’: Senators Alexander, Barrasso, Cornyn, Crapo, DeMint, Enzi, Grassley, Kyl, McConnell, Sessions, Baucus, Gregg, and Inhofe. No response from Bunning, Coburn, Ensign, Graham, Hatch, and McCain.”
“Why does no one want to talk about this?”
Smith, instead, talked to former Republican New York Governor George Pataki, of whom he asked “Republicans wanted to get this tax thing done first, they wanted pressure on the White House. This was an issue they were using toward that end, without question. Was that too far?”
Pataki tried to toe the party line with the idea of the importance of passing the tax cuts before they expire on 1 January, but felt that now was the right time to pass the Zadroga bill. Smith agreed, but noted that the Republicans and Democrats had already agreed on the tax cut extension legislation before the bill failed, and he noted “both sides didn’t come to the same page after the tax deal went through. Both sides came to the same page when Jon Stewart did an entire hour, his last hour of the year, on this, and brought on people who were dying. And it took that to get this done.”
While the Republican Party does their best to let the 9/11 First Responders die off one by one, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer of New York are working hard to bring attention to the bill and to the plight of those brave women and men who rushed to the towers on that day. Today, several of them were invited to speak of their plights.
In a press release issued today by Senator Gillibrand’s office:
Twenty-two Congressional hearings have been held on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would provide treatment and monitoring for tens of thousands of responders around the country who are sick from the toxins they inhaled while rescuing survivors and recovering remains at the World Trade Center site.
On Sunday, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) announced they have made alterations to the bill —including trimming the bill’s price tag by $1.2 billion—in a move that is expected to clear the way for final passage of the measure before the end of this year.
The senators said that they have received a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to hold a vote on the bill this week once debate on the New START treaty is ended. They said the changes to the 9/11 bill were likely to win enough Republican support to block a filibuster.
But that’s an enormous amount to get done between now and the end of the year, when the lame-duck session expires and takes with it all hope for passage. Opponents will surely try to run out the clock. They must be stopped.
Senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, owe Ground Zero responders an immediate up-or-down vote on whether the U.S. will come through with health care and compensation for the thousands who were sickened by service on and around The Pile.
And America finally appears to be waking up to the fact that the country’s honor is at stake. Thanks in large part to relentless television advocacy by Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show,” the 9/11 bill has risen up the agenda.
The Republicans vowed to never forget that day. They seem to remember it only on those days that they need political props. Senator Tom Coburn has even vowed to block the legislation for no actual reason other than he hates America and has forgotten 9/11. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will not allow a proposal that would cover health-care costs for Ground Zero workers to go through the Senate before Christmas, a Coburn aide told Washington Wire this morning.
Several Republican senators have expressed concerns over the spending package that would provide $6.2 billion to those who fell ill from cleaning up the wreckage after Sept. 11, 2001. The bill’s sponsors, New York Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, say they have the votes to get it passed, but opponents can put up procedural hurdles.