Senate Democrats optimistic over 9/11 rescue workers bill
December 19th, 2010
04:48 PM ET
12 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. Pasta Fazooli

    Where is the voice of Rudy Giuliani.?...Rudeolpho has been milking 911 for 10 years, to pad his resume and his political ambitions, and to pump up his ego,.. why is he not speaking up against his Republican thugs.

    December 19, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. Rock God

    Do you need any more evidence that Republicans don't really care about Americans?

    December 19, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  3. Henry Nation

    I propose we send these GOP senators to a site where their is toxic chemicals in the air, like there was at Ground Zero, leave them their for 6 months, then bring them back to Washington, and then cut off their access to health care, and finally, 5 or 6 years down the road, and are developing diseases like leukemia, we say to them" Sorry, but we can't give you the help you need, because you did't give the 9/11 responders the help they needed"

    December 19, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  4. Paul Gelsman

    I for one cannot fathom why anybody would have opposition to this bill. These mean and women are truly American heroes. And to pay for it, let them cut off foreign aid to Pakistan or some other low life arab country.

    December 19, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  5. Alex

    They are heroes, but why do we have to continue giving them money that a normal policeman or fireman who was injured in the line of duty wouldn't get. How are they different than any other hero firefighters or policemen...

    December 19, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. mountain man

    Wire Palladin, I could not have said it any better!

    December 19, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  7. james

    The FBI and DEA fabricate evidence, steal from suspects and use murder to close their bad cases.

    A theft ring run by several DEA and FBI who work out of the San Jose office was broken up. The theft was such an embarrassment that its discovery has been classified. The agents where harassing suspects and fabricating evidence to rationalize their repeated entry into suspect's home.

    Several corrupt FBI and DEA used military back ground investigations to help fabricate evidence against suspects. Several active duty military officers and DIS (Defense Investigative Agency) personnel where also involved, it was discovered that they had a prior working relationship. The FBI would fabricate evidence and then encourage the suspect to find employment with a military contractor thereby starting a DIS back ground investigation. The resulting tainted investigation then was basis for corrupt FBI and DEA to steal from the suspect and then splitting their goods between the involved parties.

    December 19, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  8. Joan

    It looks like it may be a good thing that the Republicans took over the Congress, maybe not by so many seats but at least they have to do something now. They can't just say NO. The voters have called their bluff and now they have to put up or shut up. They are quite an unruly and stubborn bunch and it may be quite interesting to see Boehner trying to appease and unify them. They fillibustred and stonewalled so many good measures for the last two years and now they have to try and keep their promises. Good luck on that.

    December 19, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. Liz the First

    I wish them luck passing this good bill. the rethugs are always throwing 9/11 up to us to try to terrorize us all over again. let's see them finally do something good for the real heroes of that awful day. God forbid they should do something to help someone other than their millionaire buddies.

    December 19, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  10. Dagdamor

    There should not even be a discussion whether or not to pass this. These workers are heroes. They deserve every penny this bill will send their way TEN TIMES over. This has nothing to do with politics, it has EVERYTHING to do with rewarding decent and selfless individuals who stepped forward to save others.

    December 19, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. T. Lee

    It is disingenuous for Republicans to hold this bill hostage over a provision to tax foreign corporations. Time after time after time after time we see the Republicans make a lot of noise and spout their patriotic-sounding rhetoric – but when it comes time to vote for taking care of the brave responders who ran TOWARDS DANGER on 911 – they huff and puff about this and that but as usual comes down to Republicans always putting their own financial self-interests and partisan politics before "the right thing to do".

    December 19, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  12. smum

    As long as so many Americans chose to give them a free pass at their hypocrisy and political opportunism, the same things will happen again and again. Quoting from a great American...'We have seen the enemy...and it is us."

    December 19, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. Aaron

    The Dems never seem to be able to get anything accomplished except for those endeavors that result in handing out billions in taxpayer money. This one should be a sure thing since the pricetag is over a billion, and they aren't going to let the money printing presses ever go cold.

    December 19, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. Firedog51

    Well said, I hope the democrats keep the pressure on these Bozos. Lets see sound bites saying why each and every one of them votes against this for fiscal responsibility and play it next to the tax breaks for the richest 2% of Americans and then play it every hour during the 2012 elections. If the Senator is not up for re-election play it in every state where a republican is running. This would be a gift from the gods for Democrats having this kind of ammunition. These fire folks responded in ways that these gutless Republican wonders can never know, with bravery, integrity and dignity and each one of these senators lack any sort of conscience, morals or honor.

    December 19, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. mayr

    these politicians should spend as much time working as they do trying to get off for vacations. they don't even deserve a day off! and if they vote to give themselves another raise, i swear i'll yell from the top of my lungs! these people are the worst representatives ever! the only thing they represent is greed and selfishness. and this bill should have been passed long ago! shameful that these heroes are left with sickness and disease while politicians live lives of ease. SHAMEFUL!

    December 19, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. Hershell Littlejohn

    It is a disgrace to all voters who voted Republicans in office. These workers are heroes and should have assistance with health and medical issues.

    December 19, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
1 2