After being declared all but dead, it seems there’s still a slim chance the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would provide long-term help to World Trade Center responders who became ill because of exposure to toxic dust at Ground Zero, could still become law. Republicans in the Senate blocked debate on the Zadroga bill last week, but now a few key GOP Senators have said they will vote for the bill if it is introduced again.
Advocates for our 9/11 heroes are now asking voters in every state to contact their Senator – regardless of their party affiliation – and insist that they pass the Zadroga bill. Information on how to contact your Senator is available at the US Senate website.
In blocking the bill, Senate Republicans were making good on a promise to stop any legislation – no matter how important – from passing until the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy were extended. Some Republicans also that opposed the bill’s plan to raise funds by closing tax loopholes on foreign companies that funnel profits through third parties, which they see as a tax. The bill’s sponsors, however, have offered at least five alternative funding mechanisms in an attempt to get the legislation passed.
Now that the tax cuts for the wealthy are a done deal, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), one of the bill’s chief sponsors – said in statement issued today that she is hoping for a “Christmas miracle” to pass the Zadroga bill. And according to a report in The New York Daily News, she may just get one.
According to the Daily News, a group of former firefighters, construction workers and cops visiting Capitol Hill yesterday to lobby for the bill got some encouragement from Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
“I support the 9/11 health bill on the merits, and I have talked with Senator (Kirsten) Gillibrand about the need for legitimate ways of offsetting its cost,” Senator Collins said of the measure. “If the majority leader (Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)) were to bring the bill to the floor with appropriate offsets, I would support [it],” she said.
This, after the Ground Zero group was initially greeted by Capitol police when they tried to enter Senator Collins’ office. According to the Daily News, a spokesman for Collins confirmed that a staffer alerted police after they got a letter from John Feal of the FealGood Foundation on Wednesday warning that the group was planning to stage a sit in. The spokesman said alerting Capitol police was standard procedure in such a situation.
On top of that, John Feal, who heads up the FealGood foundation told the Daily News that Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), whose office is next door to Senator Collins, also promised the bill will pass if it goes to floor next week.