Senate Passes 9/11 ‘Christmas Miracle’ Health Bill in Unanimous Vote

December 22, 2010

(ChattahBox Political News)–It’s rare to see a unanimous vote in the divided politically polarized Senate these days. After a late night deal struck by Democrats with the main obstacle to the 9/11 health bill, Sen. Tom Coburn R-OK), the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was brought swiftly to the floor on a voice vote and passed unanimously. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called the passage of the bill that pays for the health needs of our sick and dying 9/11 first responders a “Christmas Miracle.”

The Democrats had the votes they needed to overcome another GOP filibuster, but Sen. Coburn was stubbornly threatening to block the bill, and push it past the lame-duck Congress when it would have zero chance of passing in a Republican controlled House.

The Senator from Oklahoma tried lying about the bill, saying it was rushed through at the last minute. It wasn’t. He then falsely claimed it never was vetted through the committee process. It was. And in fact Coburn is a member of the panel, but he didn’t bother to show up on the day the Zadroga 9/11 Health was discussed.

Coburn then posted a long list of additional objections to the 9/11 health bill on his official website, railing against its “overly generous funding” and complaining that our 9/11 first responders had already “received significant funding.”

Finally, after the amount of the bill was further reduced from $6.2 billion to $4.2 billion and a number of other concessions were made to satisfy the so-called “Dr. No,” he released his blocking of the measure and it came to the floor for a vote.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who have been working tirelessly to get this bill passed, released a statement praising the breakthrough:

“The Christmas Miracle we’ve been looking for has arrived. Over the last 24 hours, our Republican colleagues have negotiated in good-faith to forge a workable final package that will protect the health of the men and women who selflessly answered our nation’s call in her hour of greatest need. We are pleased to announce that we crafted an agreement that will allow this legislation to pass the Senate, and the House, this afternoon. We thank our Republican friends for coming together to fulfill America’s moral obligation to the Heroes of 9/11.

“This has been a long process, but we are now on the cusp of the victory these heroes deserve. We would not be here without the strong leadership of Majority Leader Reid, Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Nadler, Congressman King, Congressman Weiner, Congressman Crowley, Congressman McMahon, the entire New York Congressional delegation, and most of all, the many brave first responders and community survivors.”

Earlier, every single member of the Senate Republican Caucus filibustered the 9/11 health bill, but the traditional news networks largely ignored the story of the GOP telling our sick and dying 9/11 heroes to go to hell.

It took Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart to devote a number of his shows to shaming the Republicans as vile cowards, before the story broke through and the Republicans started to feel some political pressure for their disgusting actions.

The bill is now smaller, but it’s better than no bill. And a lot of credit goes to Jon Stewart and Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand for going the extra mile to strike a deal with Coburn to make this happen.

Photo Source: Wikimedia/FEMA Photograph by Andrea Booher 09-13-2001 in New York, Public Domain.


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