Key test vote in Senate for 9/11 health bill

AP News
Posted: Dec 21, 2010 6:36 PM
Key test vote in Senate for 9/11 health bill

The Senate is set for a key test vote on a bill to aid people who became sick after being exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center ruins following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

New York Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said they were confident they had the 60 votes needed to prevail on the vote expected Wednesday after the Senate completes its work on an arms control treaty with Russia.

But they worry that Republicans who oppose the measure could try to stall a final vote as Congress nears the holidays and the end of its lame duck session. Some GOP lawmakers have complained that Democrats are rushing the bill through. They also have raised concerns about the bill's cost and how to pay for it.

"With the holidays fast approaching, we urge the Republicans to not drag this debate out needlessly," Schumer said in a statement. "For our 9/11 first responders, the finish line is finally in view."

The bill also would have to be approved by the House. New York lawmakers are pressing the House to remain in session for the vote.

The measure would provide up to $6.2 billion in medical and economic benefits for tens of thousands of responders around the country who are sick from the toxins they inhaled while rescuing survivors and recovering remains at the Trade Center site.

New York and New Jersey lawmakers have been pressing for several years on the issue, saying it is morally wrong not to help those sickened in the Trade Center ruins.