Republicans Block 9/11 Responders Bill
Senate Republicans this week blocked a bill that would provide medical aid to World Trade Center workers who responded to the attacks on September 11. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act wasn’t allowed to move to a formal debate on the Senate floor until there is an agreement on the controversial Bush tax cuts. The bill calls for $7.4 billion dollars in aid.
Republican Senators sent a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stating they intended to block all legislation until the Bush tax cuts were formally extended. And this Thursday they stuck to that pledge. This past Tuesday, President Barack Obama came under fire for likening the political tactics of Republicans to that of “hostage takers.” While the comment may have been extreme to some, there is no doubt that Republicans are holding legislation hostage.
Due to the threat of a filibuster—a form of obstruction in a legislative body whereby a lone member or political party can elect to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a proposal—Republicans have made passing bills through the Senate impossible without a super-majority of 60 votes. Hopefully not lost in the politics is the moral impurity of delaying this vote. An angry and emotional Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) said, “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.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also blasted Republicans for their political maneuvering.
The bill has already passed in the House and will probably be brought to the floor of the Senate again during this lame duck session. If the bill is not passed before Republicans take control of the House and claim gained seats in the Senate it is likely the bill will not pass.
In my most humble opinion…
Just to quell any confusion, the bill addresses health-care cost for those suffering from sickness and disease due to responding to the attacks on 9/11. Yes, the men and women in hard hats, the police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics. If there ever there’s a vote that should garner unanimous support, it would be this one. Without being overdramatic, this is possibly the vilest example of partisan political games. The Republicans have gained power in Congress by saying ‘no’ to Democratic legislation. Fine. Smart politics. But stopping legislation providing help to the bravest and most self-sacrificing of Americans is inexcusable and unforgivable. Republicans often get credit for being “more patriotic” because of their love for military aggression, expansion, and flag pins but stopping a bill that gives needed health care to first responders is unpatriotic, disgusting and evil.
Bellow is a sample of Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) during the House debates on the bill: