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Republicans Block Passage of the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

Posted on by Karina

Tonight the House considered the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (HR 847) under suspension of the rules to provide medical monitoring and treatment to responders and survivors of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. It also reopens the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund to provide monetary compensation for those physically injured by the 9/11 terrorist attacks or by response activities and debris removal. Speaker Pelosi in support:

The American people are looking to us to do the right thing for the people, the men and women who answered the call of duty and continue to suffer from ill health effects on their service. It is my understanding that the people affected by this live in 433 of the 435 Congressional districts. Because people not only rushed in from New York and surrounding areas, they came and brought their expertise and their health from all over the country. And therefore, the consequences of their bravery are felt all over the country, and the impact on their health is an important part of the challenge that they face and that we owe them for.

This legislation fulfills our obligation to those Americans. Helping those who jeopardized their health to rescue others, secure necessary medical treatment, especially for the unique exposures suffered at Ground Zero, ensuring survivors and victims' families can attain compensation for their tragic losses through a reopened 9/11 victim compensation fund. My colleagues, you all remember that following 9/11, there was a compensation fund established for those families of those who lost their lives. Well, many of these people are losing their lives. They certainly have lost their health. And we owe them.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) took to the floor to respond to Members on the other side of the aisle offering excuses for opposing the bill explaining, “if you believe this is a bad idea, to provide health care, then vote no–but don’t give me the cowardly view that ‘if only it was a different procedure’”:

The final vote was 255-159 in support of the bill, short of the 2/3 majority needed for passage under suspension of the rules. 155 Republicans voted against the legislation.

Learn more about the bill»

The Speaker’s full remarks:

Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for giving us the opportunity to vote this evening on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. I thank you and Congresswoman Maloney for your leadership on this issue, as well as the entire New York delegation.

Mr. Speaker, any time we enter discussion of 9/11, we are entering sacred ground. It is a place where there should be no disagreement as to our obligation to those who helped dig out and try to help clean up and recover at the scene of 9/11, at Ground Zero. When 9/11 occurred, I don't think there would have been question in anyone's mind that responding to it in this particular way was an emergency. It was an emergency. If there were ever an emergency in our country, responding to 9/11 was one. And so the objection that our colleagues make about paying for this, maybe we shouldn't pay for it, but we are. It is an emergency, it should under emergency spending and investment.

But in order to say, 'if we don't want to add to the deficit, we will pay for it,' there is a pay-for in the legislation that is about eliminating opportunities for tax evaders. To avoid taxation, using the benefit of that, to help make whole people who came to the rescue and helped rebuild and recover.

On September 11, 2001, America stood in shock at the tragedy that unfolded at Ground Zero. In the days that followed, we stood inspired by the thousands of firefighters, rescue workers, first responders, medical personnel, construction workers, who all traveled to the scene of the attack to help New Yorkers clean up and recover. Many spent days, weeks, or months doing the hard work our government asked them to do in the recovery effort.

Bound together by tragedy, their acts made them heroes. Their commitment reflected our unity as a people and as a nation. Their courage gave us hope that we would emerge from these dark days stronger and more resilient than ever. The whole country watched; the whole world watched, frustrated in our own inability to be at the scene and to be helpful, grateful to those who were so brave, so courageous, to make that sacrifice in a place that was uncertain in terms of its health aspects.

The American people are looking to us to do the right thing for the people, the men and women who answered the call of duty and continue to suffer from ill health effects on their service. It is my understanding that the people affected by this live in 433 of the 435 Congressional districts. Because people not only rushed in from New York and surrounding areas, they came and brought their expertise and their health from all over the country. And therefore, the consequences of their bravery are felt all over the country, and the impact on their health is an important part of the challenge that they face and that we owe them for.

This legislation fulfills our obligation to those Americans. Helping those who jeopardized their health to rescue others, secure necessary medical treatment, especially for the unique exposures suffered at Ground Zero, ensuring survivors and victims' families can attain compensation for their tragic losses through a reopened 9/11 victim compensation fund. My colleagues, you all remember that following 9/11, there was a compensation fund established for those families of those who lost their lives. Well, many of these people are losing their lives. They certainly have lost their health. And we owe them.

This is not a time for any partisanship. This legislation is the least we can do to offer our gratitude and support to those heroes, those individuals who never asked for any recognition or accolades, who simply want the opportunity to live, to live out their lives with health and happiness. And Americans will have a hard time understanding how any leader in Congress could oppose this critical assistance. Let's find a way to help these people, not let's look for ways not to help. We must uphold our pledge to help every one of them. We must not desert them. We must join together as Democrats and Republicans to provide this critical assistance.

I urge all of my colleagues to vote 'aye' on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. And I thank our colleagues again, in a bipartisan way, and the New York delegation for giving us the opportunity to call attention once again to the bravery and courage of so many at that time. Words are so totally inadequate, but by our deeds we can try to begin to express our gratitude. We owe them that.

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