Rep. Weiner’s Outrage: ‘Cowardly’ GOPers Vote Down 9/11 Health Benefits (Video)
July 30, 2010
(ChattahBox)–You cannot watch Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) impassioned plea on the House floor last night, in support of sickly 9/11 workers exposed to the toxins in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks, and not feel something. The outraged New York Congressman attacked Republicans for their “cowardly” vote against a bill that would have provided free health care for 9/11 responders, now suffering from a variety of lung disorders related to breathing in the debris, after the collapse of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The final vote on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, was 255 to 159, with 155 Republicans voting no. “It’s a shame! A shame,” shouted Weiner. Republicans were unrepentant, deriding the bill as a “slush fund.”
What really went down behind the scenes last night? Games and more games. And the Republicans’ cavalier and heartless attitude towards sick 9/11 workers, is what really angered Weiner, when he has so many constituents suffering from the attacks, forced to file costly and time-consuming lawsuits to receive compensation for their illnesses.
Republicans will say today, that they voted no in opposition to the procedure used by Democrats to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. But what the GOP caucus really wanted, was an excuse to junk up the bill with unneeded amendments. Steve Benen of Washington Monthly’s the Political Animal, summed it up nicely, as he always does:
“How could House Republicans kill the bill in a majority-rule chamber? As it turns out, Dems brought the measure to the floor as a “suspension bill,” because they didn’t want the GOP to try to gut the legislation with poison-pill amendments. But this strategy meant the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass. The final vote was 255 to 159 — far short of the two-thirds threshold — with 155 Republicans in opposition, many of them saying they would consider supporting the bill, but only if the GOP were allowed to push unrelated amendments intended to embarrass the majority.”
But many Republican lawmakers opposed the bill on the same warped philosophical grounds used against the BP Gulf victims compensation fund, as reported by the New York Daily News:
“Most Republicans refused to back the measure, calling it a “slush fund,” and saying it was another example of Democratic overreach and an “insatiable” appetite for taxpayers’ money.”
“The bill would spend $3.2 billion on health care over the next 10 years for people sickened from their exposure to the toxic smoke and debris of the shattered World Trade Center. It would spend another $4.2 billion to compensate victims over that span, and make another $4.2 billion in compensation available for the next 11 years.”
“This legislation as written creates a huge $8.4 billion slush fund paid by taxpayers that is open to abuse, fraud and waste,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), arguing that it would be raided by undeserving scammers with tenuous links to 9/11.”
Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) attacked the bill, as “enfranchising a bunch of New York City hospitals.”
And Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the lawmaker who apologized to BP and called compensation for Gulf victims a “slush fund,” used the false excuse of taxpayer money being spent. “We support it, without raising taxes on the rest of the American people,” he said.
But the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, is fully paid for by eliminating tax loopholes awarded to foreign companies operating in the U.S.
Republicans also opposed closing tax loopholes for international corporations, because the firms employ American workers.
With Congress headed for its August recess, the bill may not come up again, until September.
One more thought: Greg Sargent of the Washington Post’s the Plum Line, wrote this morning that Weiner’s outrage may be more properly focused on actually finding ways to defeat the highly disciplined Republican Caucus that operates in lockstep with its leaders, no matter what, much like the Orcs, the fictional zombie warriors of Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” Appealing to their “shame” won’t work, notes Sargent, because Republicans have a different agenda than Democrats:
“Whatever their substantive objections to each piece of legislation Republicans oppose, their larger game plan is to render government ineffective in order to deny Dems victories, create a sense that government is broken and has failed to deliver, stoke anti-incumbent fervor, and ensure that Dems bear the brunt of blame for government dysfunction.That’s hardly a groundbreaking point, obviously, but Dems need to stop responding superficially to Republican opposition, and tailor their response to the GOP’s underlying strategy. Weiner repeatedly yelled about the GOP’s “shame,” but this misses the point. Republicans are not going to be shamed into doing what Dems want them to do. Republicans are pursuing a concerted game plan here that Dems need to reckon with more directly.”
Meanwhile, let’s not forget, thousands of 9/11 responders remain sick and dying, from breathing in the toxic soup that enveloped the site of the fallen Twin Towers. They are indeed American heroes, and they are being demonized by Republicans as greedy scammers looking for a government handout from a Democratic “slush fund.”
Watch Rep. Weiner: