Republicans Filibuster Zadroga Health Bill for 9/11 Heroes

December 9, 2010

(ChattahBox Political News)—The obstructionist Republicans have been busy today telling our gay service men and women and 9/11 heroes to go to hell. Every single Republican, except for Sen. Susan Collins (ME) filibustered the Defense Authorization bill containing an amendment to repeal DADT. And the entire Republican Caucus filibustered the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to provide our 9/11 responders with health care, many of whom are suffering from severe health problems from breathing in the toxic dust and fumes from the smoldering Twin Towers. The Republicans have derided the measure as a “slush fund,” saying we can’t afford it, while they have no problems adding billions to the deficit to provide the rich with a tax cut they don’t need.

When the Twin Towers were felled by a terrorist attack, the rescue workers rushed in to save lives, without a thought to their own safety. Now years later, many of the first responders need health care for severe breathing problems. But the GOP is only concerned with their wealthy constituents.

Mayor Bloomberg condemned the Senate Republicans for blocking the 9/11 health care bill. “The attacks of 9/11 were attacks on America,” he said, “and we have a collective responsibility to care for the heroes, from all 50 states, who answered the call of duty, saved lives and helped our nation recover.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY) slammed the Republicans for their heartlessness, while, they hold the Senate hostage until the wealthiest Americans get a tax cut.

“The idea that tax cuts for millionaires would derail this legislation is simply outrageous and offensive,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“The men and women who rushed to the burning towers and worked for hundreds of hours on the pile did not delay and the Senate should not have delayed either, certainly not to give tax breaks for millionaires. We should not have to wait for tax deals to do what’s right.”

The Democrats passed the bill in the House in September with little Republican support. The same bill was voted down by House Republicans in July. Democratic lawmakers view the health care bill as a moral obligation of the federal government to take care of the 9/11 heroes who became sickened at Ground Zero.

The New York Times writes:

“In a vote largely along party lines, the Senate rejected a procedural move by Democrats to end debate on the 9/11 health bill and to bring it to a vote; 60 yes votes were needed, but the move received only 57, with 42 votes against.”

“Republicans have been raising concerns about how to pay for the $7.4 billion measure, while Democrats, led by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York, have argued that there was a moral obligation to assist those who put their lives at risk during rescue and cleanup operations at ground zero.”

“The bill is formally known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, named after a New York police detective who participated in the rescue efforts at ground zero. He later developed breathing complications that were common to first responders at the site, and he died in January 2006. The cause of his death became a source of debate after the city’s medical examiner concluded that it was not directly related to the attacks.”

Although Republicans complain about the cost, the bill is fully paid for by eliminating tax loopholes awarded to foreign companies operating in the U.S.  And that’s what the GOP is so incensed about— their wealthy corporate constituents.

When House GOPers voted down the 9/11 first responders bill in July, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) attacked the Republicans voting against it as “cowardly.” “It’s a shame! A shame,” shouted Weiner.

Watch Weiner’s impassioned remarks on the House floor on behalf of the 9/11 heroes back in July:

Photo Source: Wikimedia/FEMA Photograph by Andrea Boohe taken 9-13-2001, New York/Public Domain.


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