NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) — The day after a bill that would have provided over $7 billion in compensation to 9/11 rescue workers failed to pass in the Senate, Democrats took aim at their Republican colleagues, calling the vote a “punch in the face.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Jerrold Nadler ripped Republican senators for blocking the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.
“You need to show America that ‘remember 9/11′ is more than a slogan,” Maloney said at a news conference near Ground Zero Friday.
Supporters of the bill were three votes short of the 60 needed to proceed to debate and a final vote. The bill failed on a test vote, 57-42.
Fifty-seven Democrats voted for the bill and 41 Republicans opposed it. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, switched his vote to ‘no’ at the last moment, a parliamentary move that allows him to bring the measure up again for a vote.
“The Republicans yesterday in the Senate did not forget the heroes and heroines of 9/11 — they punched them in the face,” Nadler said.
Republican senators have promised not to consider any other bills until the Senate acts on funding the government and extending tax cuts.
Critics questioned whether the bill is affordable and does enough to ensure that only people with illnesses related to trade center dust get help.
Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were vowing to use any means to revive the bill, including attaching it to the tax cut package.
“We should not have to wait for tax deals to do what’s right,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a lead advocate of the bill.
Construction worker turned activist John Feal said blocking the bill until the tax cuts are extended is a slap in the face to 9/11 heroes and survivors. Feal said Senators “held our bill hostage to help millionaires before we help hostage.”
Feal, who lost half his foot in the rescue operation, said he remained confident the bill will eventually pass, but said the delay was costing lives.
“Republican senators said that they’d do whatever it takes to rebuild, they betrayed their promise,” Maloney said.