9/11 First Responders Health Care Bill: Deal Reached In Sen

9/11 First Responders Health Care Bill: Deal Reached In Senate

WASHINGTON -- After a filibuster and threats of obstruction by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday that they had reached a deal with Republican senators on a bill that would provide health care for first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Gillibrand and Schumer, the bill's chief sponsors, lobbied hard for the legislation to be introduced again in the lame-duck session, when they could still ensure House support. But on Tuesday, they hit a snag when Coburn vowed to block the bill, saying he wanted it to be funded through spending cuts.

Coburn also claimed the bill had been fast-tracked and skipped committee. But in fact the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on the bill in June -- Coburn, a committee member, missed it.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) also said he would oppose the bill so the Senate could hold hearings on it in the future.

But just before leaving town for Christmas, senators reached a deal to ensure Republican support for the bill. It will now go for a vote by unanimous consent. The House remained in Washington to act on the bill.

The new deal reduces the cost of the bill by $6.2 million from its previous Senate version and $7.5 million from the version that passed the House, according to a statement from Coburn's office. It calls for closing the Victims Compensation Fund in 2016 instead of 2031, preventing claimants from pursuing civil lawsuits if rejected from the fund, and limiting infrastructure costs and attorney fees.

"Every American recognizes the heroism of the 9/11 first responders, but it is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generations of opportunity," Coburn said in a statement after the deal was reached. "I'm pleased this agreement strikes a fair balance and improves the bill the majority attempted to rush through at the last minute."

If the bill passes, it will be another success for Democrats during a busy lame-duck session.

"This has been a long process, but we are now on the cusp of the victory these heroes deserve," Gillibrand and Schumer said in a joint statement.

From CNN

Washington (CNN) -- The Senate on Wednesday passed a compromise version of a bill to provide free medical treatment to first responders of the September 11 terrorist attack.

The bill passed on a voice vote on what is expected to be the final day of the lame-duck session of Congress. It now goes to the House, which also is expected to approve it and send it to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

Negotiations Wednesday morning involving Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both of New York, led to the deal that reduced the cost of the bill by $2 billion and made other changes sought by GOP opponents, according to statements by the participants.

"The Christmas Miracle we've been looking for has arrived," said the statement issued by Schumer and Gillibrand, adding: "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."

Coburn, a conservative who led the opposition to the bill, said the agreement produced a better piece of legislation.

"Every American recognizes the heroism of the 9/11 first responders, but it is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generations of opportunity," said Coburn, who had demanded that the cost of the bill be lowered and fully paid for. "I'm pleased this agreement strikes a fair balance and improves the bill the majority attempted to rush through at the last minute."

According to Coburn, the agreement reduces the overall cost of the bill by $2 billion to a total of $4.2 billion over a 10-year period. His statement said that $1.5 billion of the cost goes for health benefits and $2.7 billion will pay for compensation for health woes of emergency responders.

The agreement also caps attorneys' fees at 10 percent of any total compensation award, and prevents individuals from making multiple claims for benefits.

Democrats previously agreed to pay for the bill with fees collected on various services involving foreign countries and foreign visitors.

On Tuesday, Schumer said it appeared the bill would come up for a Senate vote once lawmakers voted on New START, a nuclear arms control pact with Russia that is one of Obama's top foreign policy priorities. The START vote was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

"It will be decision day in the Senate, and we will see once and for all who will keep their promise to never forget the heroes of 9/11," Schumer said.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill is named after a deceased New York Police Department detective who had worked in the toxic plume at ground zero.

The House earlier passed the previous version of the bill on a mostly partisan 268-160 vote.

According to the bill's supporters, it is funded by a procurement fee on some foreign countries that trade with the United States, the continuation of a fee on some travelers to the United States and a fee on visas for some companies. The version being negotiated by the senators Wednesday drops some of those funding sources.

On Tuesday, a group of 9/11 first responders joined lawmakers in Washington to urge the Senate to pass the health care bill.

"We continue to see our friends die on a day-to-day basis," said Glen Klein, a New York police officer who said he is sick with lung disease. "We're asking for the right to live."

In the years following the attacks, health experts have noted respiratory and mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, in those who engaged in ground zero rescue and cleanup efforts.

"Apparently we have some senators who would like to believe that when 343 fire officers and firefighters (and thousands of civilians and police officers) died on 9/11 ... that was the end of it," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

"If that were true, we could move on."

The bill had been in legislative limbo since Thursday, when Senate Democrats failed to win a procedural vote to open debate on it.

But on Sunday, Democrats said they were hopeful they had pulled off "a Christmas miracle" by changing the bill enough to garner Republican support.

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

If such a healthcare bill were considered inevitable,...

...how expensive is it for the government to cover 911 responders healthcare needs now rather than, say, in 2005 or in 2002?

Good point Dearth

The mainstream public really did not know the extent of the neglect of the responders. Though Its been hammered home from all side incredibly in the past 2 weeks alone.
The other point is George W Bush was president in 2002 and had the US Senate locked up until 2006.


To the FealGood Foundation, and to the 9/11 First Responders. It was my honor to help you.


Just saw something very sad. The brother of one of the fallen 9/11 First Responders just posted the news about the Zadroga Bill. He said, "posting in honor of my brother Greg and all those who continue to suffer." I wish this was passed years ago like it should have been. All my respect to those that have died over the years from the toxic dust.

I find what happened


Spending cuts??

How about no tax cut extension for the rich??? Cuts on defense spending??? How about the senators pay for their own health insurance and pension?

The Democrats are spineless appeasers, and the their Republican 'counterparts' are outright insane. They have no shame. They think it's acceptable to stand there and ruminate about frugality. I just... can't.. believe these people.

One lone voice on Fox News spoke out.. the same guy who flipped when he found out the US was torturing people.

I think I like that guy. But one sole voice on the extreme right standing up is meager consolation for years of suffering. The supposed 'left' ... allegedly standing up for the rights of the common folk... are just camouflaged to look like it.


It first passed, I posted on Facebook...

"The James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act passed the Senate. The Republicans made them take off roughly $2B in order to pass it. Years too late, not the amount they wanted, but something... finally... is better than nothing. Congratulations to all 9/11 First Responders. I'm glad I could do what I've done to help. It was my honor."

And I see that Jon Stewart is being made into a hero. Did he help? Sure. But where was Jon in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and most of 2010 with regards to this issue?

Anyway, I'm glad it passed. Let's see... Health care for the responders... check... justice for the 9/11 Families and the people of the world...

the bill has now passed the house too. . .

. . . acc to this report from bna

House, Senate Pass 9/11 Health Bill Imposing Excise Tax on Some Government Purchases
Posted December 22, 2010, 17:49 P.M. ET

The House and Senate both passed legislation Dec. 22 that will impose a 2 percent excise tax on federal procurement payments to certain foreign persons as a way to raise $4.6 billion to pay for additional health benefits for first responders injured in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The bill (H.R. 847) passed by voice vote in the Senate after Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) reached a compromise agreement with Democrats on the bill to reduce its cost and scale back the length of time that new benefits would be provided to Sept. 11 victims and first responders. The cost of the bill was cut from its original version of $10 billion to $4.2 billion for the version passed.

House leaders quickly brought the bill to the floor and passed it by a vote of 205-60.

Thanks and Congratulations to

Thanks and Congratulations to Jenna Orkin, Michael Wolsey, Scott Ford, Betsy Metz, Justin Martell, the Jackman Brothers, Mark Peters, Nick from Philly, Abby Martin, Don Shappelle, Nicholas Flippy, Kevin Ryan, Andrea Egizi and several of the WAC groups for their hard work over the years bringing attention to this issue. You all helped to put this issue on the map. The national media certainly hasn't helped over the years. You should all be proud of yourselves for the part that you played in the passage of this bill.

*comment edited to remove personal information

At long last, progress!

This should have happened years ago, but it is finally here and that is some much needed good news.

Congratulations, and Merry Christmas to all the phenomenal first responders who ran towards the danger on 9/11 and to everyone who helped in the clean-up afterwards. You are the examples the rest of us should follow.

This is a essential and hard earned win.

"Building What?" is in place to further the tsunami of reality that is banging down the MSM door.

I salute you all and rejoice at the medical dignity that was dearly earned today.


Help for the First Responders [ x ]
Justice for the families [ ]
Justice for those lost in the 9/11 wars [ ]

Jerry Mazza's response.. 'No seasons' greetings'

This is from Jerry Mazza: "Let me alert you that your wonderful Senate and Congress acquiesced like Scrooge to a bill that cuts the original $7.5 billion over eight years for 9/11 workers health down to $4.3 billion for health coverage over five years. This is my response to the article presently running in the New York Times called "Deal for 9/11 Health Bill Reaching in Senate."

Re: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/deal-for-911-health-bill-r... .

Jerry Mazza
New York City
December 22nd, 2010; 2:42 pm

"Once again the US Senate stoops to the role of Scrooge, providing a bill that is considerably less than asked for, over a period of only five years not ten. Let me remind you, Mitch, and Mr. Boehner that 900 9/11 workers have died since 9/11/2001. Do the math. That's 100 workers per each of nine years. Had your bill been law since 9/11, four hundred of those men would have received nothing. And yet, when it comes to extending tax cuts for the rich, you have no scruples about letting several hundred billion dollars fly from the Treasury's coffers for the top 2% of the country's earners. Each and every one of those men and women who died, or will die, or continue to suffer till they die, did what they did for you, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Boehner, and for myself, and for America. They didn't stand around to haggle for overtime or medals. They just jumped into the fray and got the job done in only eight months. Mayor Giuliani had in fact two and a half years to get the job done. But he pushed these men night and day to get rid of the forensic evidence. These workers did not have respirators. They had paper masks. Many of them didn't use the masks. No one monitored their wearing them. And, days after 9/11, both FEMA and the EPA said the environment was o.k. to live and work in (so Wall Street could get working again). The barrage of toxic chemicals they were confronted with was unbelievable and rightly called America's worst environmental disaster ever. And for facing this, plus the trauma of working through it, you play cheesy with these heroes. Would that one of you had the raw courage, guts, and heart of any of these individuals. This country would not be in the shape it is currently in if you did. Coal for all the stockings of your wishes, hopes and dreams. No seasons' greetings."

Jerry Mazza
Associate Editor,
Online Journal.



Just talked to John Feal...

Just talked to John Feal... he's tired, but he's happy. I also found out that the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act automatically gets an additional $5B after 5 years.