Congress Passes $4.2B 9/11 Health Care Bill

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS/AP) — After a last-minute compromise, Congress passed legislation Wednesday to provide up to $4.2 billion in new aid to survivors of the September 11th terrorism attack on the World Trade Center and responders who became ill working in its ruins.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell on the Zadroga family

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell on the impact on medical treatments

The House passed the bill on a 206-60 vote Wednesday about two hours after the Senate cleared it on a voice vote as lawmakers raced to wrap up their work before Christmas.

The measure now heads to President Obama. Obama has said he is eager to sign the measure, though some supporters of the bill have criticized him for not getting more involved in the fight.

The measure was a product of a compromise involving Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand  and Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Speaking with WCBS 880 Wednesday afternoon, Gillibrand said “the Senate came together” and “did the right thing for our first responders” and “our American heroes.”

“Every American recognizes the heroism of the 9/11 first responders, but it is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generation of opportunity,” said Coburn, who led a GOP blockade against the bill. “This agreement strikes a fair balance.”

When Gillibrand was asked if she was happy with the final bill that involved less money and fewer years, the Senator said it was “fine.”

“Senator Schumer and I and the whole congressional delegation can just go back to the drawing board in five years and say ‘we need to put more funds into this,'” she told WCBS 880.

Listen to the full WCBS 880 interview with Sen. Gillibrand

1010 WINS Reporter Stan Brooks gets reaction to the 9/11 Health Bill passage.

“Finally, we are showing the type of gratitude that these heroes have always deserved,” Sen. Bob Menendez, of New Jersey, said.

Mayor Bloomberg expressed his appreciation to a number lawmakers who worked on behalf of the bill.  The mayor called the Senate’s passage an affirmation of the “nation’s commitment to protecting those who protect us all.”

“The Senate recognized that 9/11 was not just an attack on New York but an attack on America,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is named for former NYPD detective James Zadroga, whose supporters said died of respiratory disease as a result of his work at the World Trade Center Site.

The bill gained momentum with help from cable TV personalities. Among the biggest champions of the package were Fox News anchor Shepard Smith and comedian and activist Jon Stewart, who championed the bill and lashed its GOP foes on his Comedy Central TV program “The Daily Show.”

The compromise was reached after Democrats scheduled a showdown test vote for Wednesday afternoon and Republicans countered by threatening to run a 30-hour clock before allowing final Senate and House votes on the bill. That would have required keeping both the Senate and House in session for votes on Christmas Eve.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Rich Lamb
  • Shaun Donaldson

    As a former contributor to this site, I would like to express my appreciation to those that own and manage it and similar ones too in allowing my opinions about this special situation to be expressed. Unfortunately, there are still places within this World of ours where such freedom of speech is still but a distant dream.

    Secondly, I would like to thank all those who made the passage of this Bill possible as it will bring some much needed cheer into the lives of those that have already experienced great suffering.

    Finally, my thoughts go out to all those that have served and continue to serve and protect our lives and liberty. Many families at this time will be missing their precious loved ones. In my view, we owe all of them a debt that can never be repaid. The day we forget that, something within us dies too!

    My very best to you all for the year ahead.

  • Michael H.

    This website has the worst trolls on the internet. Is this the best you people can do?

  • Jersey Boy

    The Democrats have politicized this to the hilt. All you GOP bashers should study up before you make such remarks. The Dems have held the senate and house for 4 years. Where have they been all this time?

  • LOL over this

    How many years did it take to get passed? How many heroes died waiting for medical and financial help? Do you think emergency crews are thinking twice about risking their health and lives after this long and drawn out fiasco. Then again, we’re the working class. Got any more cake?

  • Dalele Blanc

    Yeap. In fact, did you know that Currently, many insurance companies do not allow adult children to remain on their parents’ plan once they reach 19. Companies cannot do that any more. Search onilne for “Wise Health Insurance” and you can insure your kids if you are in the same boat.

  • life is good

    I was pleased to see a news story tonight that stated that The Oklahoma City Firefighters took their useless Senator Tom Coburn to task over his threat to block the 9/11 Health Bill. The GOP still doesn’t get it. They really believe that the middle class put them into office to pander to the wealthiest 2% of Americans while denying health care for sick and dying 9/11 First Responders. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be comical. The GOP seems completely unable to grasp reality … they are far too enamored with the excesses of corporate wealth and completely out of touch with the middle class. If they keep it up, they will see their ‘mandate’ short lived, we in the middle class have already seen enough! God Bless the 9/11 First Responders and all who came to the aid of getting this partial bill passed.

  • MerlinMedic

    Actually, many of these people have been covered very well by New York and New York City this is the Fed’s kick in, which they owe, after all, this was an attack on the US. Yes, there were & probably still are loopholes of those left out: EMS, the paramedics & EMTs who were not FDNY, to name one group (44 KIA/LoD). Yes, Chuck knows how to play the press like a Stradavarius, but should he be trying to make political hay with something like this, or work honestly to get the bill into a law?

    • Joan

      Merliln, many of the insurance plans of which you speak have caps to them, and depending on the severity of the illnesses. the money DOES run out. SO to say many of these people people have been covered “very well” is at the very least a mis-statement.

  • Debby

    it’s about time! thank goodness schumer kept pushing.

  • New Yorker

    “It is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generation of opportunity.” Except, of course, when it comes to tax cuts for the rich.

  • melody

    i hope everyone gets the medical help they need :)

    christie todd whitman lied and told everyone it was safe to go back to ground zero only days after the event.

  • aldous huxley

    Schumer did it! Woo hoo … he’s a hero! Politicians are great!

    Schumer for President in 2012 !!!

    • althea

      I agree….Schumer for President!!! If he runs, I’m going to register and vote for the first time.

  • nathan

    Funny I don’t hear DanTe weighing in on this one.

  • Captain Obvious

    Great press op for Schumer. Yesterday’s photo of him with the casual “every guy” look, doing what he needs to do, even though it is the weekend. He’s got a solid press staff – kudos gang!

    I support the bill & hope those that need the help get it.

    I just hate this is so over the top grandstanding that Chuck is doing. But, that is what politicians do. Just don’t get fooled into thinking that Chuck would be doing this if wasn’t getting significant political mileage out of it. I’m just tired of this cr@p.

  • Nick

    Here’s a way to fund this:

    Seize all Saudi accounts. They funded al Queda to begin with.

  • Al Pope

    Dont they have health benefits

    • Joan

      not nearly enough to cover the costs. First responders are not just firefighters and police (whose health benefits for the “retireee” are horrible) , but also all the ironworkers, etc, who helped moved the debris out of Ground Zero. Additionally, people who live and/or work in the immediate vicinity are also affected.

    • Maureen

      Yes, Al they do have health benefits, but they no longer can work or claims are getting denied between the insurance carrier and Comp – which happens more than you know for many people. Therefore, they have no source of income and need help now.

  • Micha

    I just don’t get our governments mentality. They borrow money from medicare to keep medicaid afloat, they force obamacare down our throats, but they have a problem with providing health care for the men and women who went in and cleaned up the mess that was 9/11. I am sick of this backwards ideology that you either have to be destitute(or pretend to be) or filty rich to get anything in this country.

  • The Truth

    Sadly about what happened and I do believe there should be no expense spared on medical but enough with this hero mentality. FDNY got a lottery out of it. If the radios were working they would not have been in the building. Most of the time they barely work. FDNY is a bigoted unit. Too much welfare and bonus points because their father worked. Cut the BS already and go to volunteer FD like LI

    • The truth hurts

      Those firemen and other volunteers sacrificed so that our country could go forward and rebuild. Our EPA, governor, mayor and others all told them it was safe to go inthere when it wasn’t. You clearly know nothing about the FDNY and the dignity which with those men and volunteers serve. To make this political is about as stupid as the GOP Senators who have been blocking this bill.

    • Joan

      Couldn’t pass theFDNY FF test?

  • Joan

    Coburn, you really have no idea what you are talking about. I’d get more explicit but the post would not stand….

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