Senate Democrats optimistic over 9/11 rescue workers bill
December 19th, 2010
04:48 PM ET
3 years ago

Senate Democrats optimistic over 9/11 rescue workers bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Democrats said they were hopeful they had pulled off "a Christmas miracle" by gaining enough votes to pass a health care bill benefiting 9/11 rescue workers.

Long-time champion of the bill, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said in the past 48 hours Democrats had retooled the measure to gain Republican support. He said Democrats would introduce the bill after the last vote on the START nuclear arms treaty, which has occupied the Senate for several days.

"Barring a setback, we believe we're on the path to victory by the end of this week," Schumer said.

He said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, promised he would bring the bill to the floor.

"We don't know exactly when that will occur - that's often up to our Republican colleagues - but we're next," Schumer said.

The bill would provide more medical care for 9/11 rescue workers, many of whom sifted through the rubble of the World Trade Center looking for bodies, and who were exposed to harmful toxins.

Schumer joined fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, who called the announcement "a Christmas miracle" for the bill, which in the past has failed to muster enough Republican support.

Gillibrand said the bill's sponsors changed the way the health care fund would be paid for and cut its total cost in response to Republican concerns.

Instead of coming with a $7.4 billion price tag, the bill will now cost $6.2 billion over 10 years, after a court settlement that benefited some of the responders.

The senators also changed how the bill will be funded. The $6.2 billion will come from a procurement fee on some foreign countries that trade with the U.S., the continuation of a fee on some travelers to the U.S. and a fee on visas for some companies.

Schumer admitted there were several hurdles to passing the bill, including perhaps the most daunting, convincing his House colleagues to remain in Washington to take up the bill after the Senate.

"I think there's going to be huge pressure on people not to go home until we do this," Schumer said. "We believe that they should stay to get the bill passed. We are going to get it done as quickly as possible."

Senators have a long to-do list to finish before breaking for Christmas. In addition to resolving the debate over the START treaty, they also need to pass a funding bill that would keep the federal government running into 2011.


Filed under: 9/11 • Charles Schumer • Congress • Kirsten Gillibrand • Senate
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I hope this works out. It is so disgusting to see the GOP gasbags use 9-11 in all their speeches for ten years, talking about the heroic first responders, and then treat the same responders like crap. God, the republicans are a vile group of hypocrites. We have pythons in the Everglades that are more humane.

    December 19, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. Sandy

    The Republicans show their true colors–shafting the 9/11 responders yet spending gazillions on The War Against Terror. How about supporting those here at home, those that stepped forward to clean up the 9/11 supermess and got messed up in so doing? My disgust cannot be put into words for these hypocrites, dare I even say "my fellow Americans."

    December 19, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. Former Republican - Now Independent

    Anyone who does not vote for this bill has no right to consider themselves to be a patriot. These first-responders should be given the same respect and deference as our military personnel.

    Of course considering how the Republicans have voted to suppport veterans who have developed PTSD and other ailments, maybe these first responsder ARE up a creek without a paddle.

    December 19, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Maybe this would be a good time for Fox lies (misinformation with a communist flair) to give the OK for their paid for GOP senators to pass the bill.

    December 19, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    The Republicans not wanting to provide for the 9/11 First Responders is typical of their attitude about this tragedy:

    - First, Bush ignores the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing explicitly warning about al Qaeda wanting to attack the US using airplanes.

    - Then after the tragedy of 9/11, the GOP tries to use the event for their political gain – except, of course, when they blast New York as not being "real America."

    - Now, the Republicans hold hostage all legislation until tax cuts for their wealthy cronies are passed, and make excuses for not funding the First Responders.

    What pathetic SOS these Republicans are!

    December 19, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Our enemies no longer need to attack us from without – we are being being destroyed from within by the Republicans.

    December 19, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Every Senator opposed to this bill should be made to watch the Thursday, December 16 "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and listen to the four First Responders talk about what they've done through since 9/11.

    Pay particular attention to the clip of Mitch McConnel literally CRYING about one of his colleagues leaving the Senate after 6 years – and how he opposed the First Responders bill ... reveals how the Republicans really feel about our country – and makes you want to hurl!

    December 19, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Cnn is setting up with extremist tea party for financial gains and because they are afraid this is very similar to nazi germany no one agreed to give liberasl this kind of consideration in the sixties and seventies they only showed stories for publicity sake life will not have worth nor will we have freedom if tp is considered valid peace and freedom cannot exist with any extrmist conservative or liberal just give reason some thought g holman

    December 19, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    This is current news but Sarah Palin is Stillthe lead story about a poll that is now over 4 days old. CNN keeps up its All Palin All the time news cycles.

    December 19, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. Chris

    This is going to be funny. Republicans blocked this bill despite all the pseudo support they showed for 'patriotism' and 'heroes' in the aftermath of 9/11. So then they slapped every rescuer in the face by denying this to go through.

    Now they've been called out on it, they'll go back and pass it and THEN try to take credit for it's passage. After belittling these heroes and treating them like dogs, republicans will walk away with the credit of getting it passed and celebrate it as 'a victory for patriots.'

    Have you figured out exactly how this works yet? I have. It's not tough.

    December 19, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    While bringing an end to DADT is a great accomplishment, the fact that there was ANY friction against the First Responders bill is DISGUSTING. DADT wasn't life or death/quality of health for most in the service. The 9/11 bill IS all about the quality of life for people who rushed in when everyone else was rushing out. Like our military and veteran populations, First Responders should get the HIGHEST quality of care and they shouldn't have to beg for it. It should already have been there.

    Congress (REPUBLICANS in particular) need to get this done.

    December 19, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. Gil

    The repulsive republicans will just vote, "NO!" They will eagerly go into two wars lasting forever, but what about the health of the 9/11 workers? Not!

    December 19, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. ronalde

    where is rudy he should be taking the republicans on,he bragged on how quick they were to respond,now that they need his help ,he is no where to be found any other time he would be running his mouththe republicans are a fraud they don't care about anyone but the rich..

    December 19, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. f

    vile group of hypocrites? how do they keep getting elected?

    December 19, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. erin

    Why anyone could ever vote Republican is beyond me. Seriously – they blantantly stand for tax breaks for the super-rich, religious intolerance, disdain for the poor, and,obviously don't give a rat's a$$ about the people who truly were heroes on 9-11.

    December 19, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  16. Guy Montag

    The behavior of the Republican party has become to disgusting and corrupt that its hard not to feel some sense of revolutionary anger. Remember, remember, the fifth of November...

    December 19, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  17. Surthurfurd

    "Support our troops!"
    "Support out first responders!"
    Though this really means....
    "Support how we abuse these heroes for the benefit of our political interests."

    December 19, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  18. Ari LA

    Seeing that some of the people this bill is supposed to help won't be AROUND for next Christmas, you'd think the Republican party would spend one extra day to ensure that these brave people are helped. It was so horrifying watching the Stewart interview with those people, some of whom were dying yet still trying to fight for those who may still have a chance to get some help and beat what they are facing. The fact the Republicans have turned their backs on these people is just nauseating, and makes me wonder what exactly the Republicans stand for now. All they've done is pass a tax cut for the richest. Is that really all they care about?

    December 19, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. adrifter

    Jon Stewart shamed the Republicans into doing something.

    December 19, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  20. paul

    I hope this can pass. It's a shame how the GOP has been saying no to this.

    December 19, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  21. Name king

    I don't understand these repugs, if they are for something benefits them, they will pull out all the stops to get what they want, but if they think something will benefit Obama, even if they use the same thing as a rallying cry, against Obama agenda, they will switch quickly if they won't get a personal reward for it. Is this the worst we can get from the repugs, ooh crap, the congressional republican talibans are set to take over the house in January, may YAH help us all.

    December 19, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. Debbie from Arizona

    This needs to be passed NOW. The fact that the GOP has used 9-11 so often to make their political points and then has the nerve to deny these brave men and women the health care they deserve is unforgivable. The GOP say they have heard America, well there's a big difference between hearing and listening. Do your darn job, take care of these people who put this country before themselves. They deserve this health care and our respect, much more than these Senators who voted against this bill.

    December 19, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  23. d

    you can't just rush into something that costs that much money...our gov't is working with very limited funds. it's not hypocritical to scrutinize something that doesn't make sense...it's what i expect from our politicians! it's their job!

    when the house and senate come back from vacation, social security should be next on their agenda. the age of retirement is too low and should be raised by a couple of years...that will save the gov't billions of dollars. there's a ton of fraud from people claiming to have disabilities that really don't....that needs to be addressed.

    December 19, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. Samuel Greenway

    The GOP supports those who suffer from 9/11. Problem is the Democrats want to use it as an excuse for more takeovers. Im for some sort of grant to the 9/11 victims, but not for more health care dictatorship. The Democrats are geniuses, they are able to pit people against one another. For instance the Mexican Immigration bill. Problem to be fair you would have to let everyone who wants to be a citizen to become a citizen, and not discriminate against everyone else who isn't a Hispanic. DADT, I grew up in a military town, and when you join the military you give up all of your rights. Im against discrimination, but im also against women serving beside men in the military, because of the sexual and romantic complications that do cause failure of discipline amongst the ranks.

    December 19, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  25. Squigman

    We'd better make sure the republicans are okay with this first. There may be a nickle, or a dime that could be pushed toward a millionaire or two. And I'm sure we'd all like to see them get first dibs on any handouts. They're so needy.

    December 19, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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