July 30, 2010

Bill to aid 9/11 first responders with health problems fails to pass in House

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 11:56 pm

Author’s note: This is good example of how 9/11 first responders have been kicked to the curb and why congress cannot get anything done. Wow, after all the patriotic hoopla about remembering 9/11 and those who made sacrifices, the Republicans sure are quick to forget that once Democrats want to do something for them. Damn hypocrites!

A House bill designed to aid 9/11 first responders who have health problems or were directly impacted in the aftermath of the attacks was killed in the House late Thursday.

According to the New York Times, while most legislators supported the measure, the 255-to-159 vote fell short of the two-thirds margin needed under special rules that were used to bring the measure to the floor. In the end, 243 Democrats and 12 Republicans supported the measure; 155 Republicans and 4 Democrats opposed it.

The bill would have provided $3.2 billion over the next eight years to monitor and treat injuries stemming from exposure to toxic dust and debris at the World Trade Center site. The bill also would have set aside $4.2 billion to reopen the Victim Compensation Fund to provide compensation for any job and economic losses and make another $4.2 billion in compensation available through 2031.

In addition, the bill contained a provision that would have allowed money from the Victim Compensation Fund to be paid out to anyone who receives payment under the pending settlement stemming from lawsuits that 10,000 rescue and cleanup workers filed against the city. Currently, anyone who receives a settlement from the city could not receive compensation from the fund

The funding would have come from closing tax loopholes on foreign subsidiaries that do business in the United States, and from the city of New York picking up 10 percent of the health care costs.

The arguments against the bill ranged from the usual calling it a “slush fund” and a “massive job-killing entitlement program” to objections about the procedure used to pass the bill. Here are some quotes compiled by the NY Daily News:

“This legislation as written creates a huge $8.4 billion slush fund paid by taxpayers that is open to abuse, fraud and waste,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), arguing that it would be raided by undeserving scammers with tenuous links to 9/11.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) cast it as a money grab for New York because the bill would pay for care at higher rates than Medicare. “What this is is politics,” Shimkus said. “What this is is enfranchising a bunch of New York City hospitals.”

“This fund is bloated,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

Texas Republican Joe Barton, leading debate for his side, said the GOP would back a smaller program, such as the $150 million a year the White House would like to spend. But he said the rest of the country should not bear the brunt of helping New Yorkers cope with the aftermath of the terror attacks.

“We support it, without raising taxes on the rest of the American people,” said Barton (R-TX), who recently won infamy by apologizing to BP.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) objected to the bill on the grounds that democrats brought it up for vote on the suspension calendar, which speeds up the voting process and is commonly used for non-controversial legislation. Suspension prevents the minority party from adding unrelated legislation, but also requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

After Rep. King called it “cruel hoax and charade” and other Republicans said they would consider supporting the bill only if they could add amendments, it elicited a harsh response from several Democrats.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), whose constituents include many directly affected by this legislation, wasn’t especially impressed with the Republican argument and went into a rant that has been called a You Tube moment by some, “It’s Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans, rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes! You vote yes if you believe yes… if you believe it’s the right thing. If you believe it’s the wrong thing, you vote no.” He later sparred with Rep. King on Fox news (see videos here).

In question here are the health and well-being of hundreds of people who put aside all politics and worked tirelessly in hazardous conditions to clean up the mess at ground zero, only to lose their jobs, health care and in some cases, their lives as a result. Enabling the government and the country to give them something in return is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of righteousness. It is a shame our politicians cannot work together as well as the 9/11 first responders had in the months following 9/11.

Read more, get links and videos here: Madison Independent Examiner – Bill to aid 9/11 first responders with health problems fails to pass in House

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