House Passes Bill to Provide Aid for 9/11 Responders

Supporters more optimistic because bill only needs a simple majority

By ANDREW MIGA
|  Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010  |  Updated 4:43 PM EDT
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The so-called 9/11 Health Care Bill might be getting a second chance. Tim Minton reports from Lower Manhattan to explain why this has become such an emotional issue.

The so-called 9/11 Health Care Bill might be getting a second chance. Tim Minton reports from Lower Manhattan to explain why this has become such an emotional issue.

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The U.S. House has passed a bill to provide up to $7.4 billion in aid for workers sickened by World Trade Center dust.

The bill passed 268 to 160.

The vote came Wednesday on the measure which would provide free health care and compensation to Sept. 11 rescue and recovery workers who fell ill after working in the trade center ruins.

“To the living victims of 9/11, we have good news: help is on the way.  Today, the House answered the emergency calls of thousands of ailing 9/11 first responders and survivors,” Carolyn Maloney said of today's vote.

In July, the bill failed to win the two-thirds majority needed under the procedure that Democratic leaders used to bring up the bill to block potential amendments. The bill fell short by a vote of 255-159.

New York lawmakers who have been pushing the measure for years say they're more optimistic this time because the bill will need only a simple majority.

"Failure is not an option," John Feal, a ground zero demolition worker who has lobbied extensively for the bill, said at a Capitol Hilly rally earlier this month to press for the bill.

U.S. Rep Carolyn Maloney, a lead advocate of the bill, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had agreed to bring up the bill under regular parliamentary rules "with the expectation that neither side will play politics with this life-saving legislation."

During the floor debate in July, GOP critics branded the bill as yet another big-government "massive new entitlement program" that would have increased taxes and possibly kill jobs.

To pay the bill's estimated $7.4 billion cost over 10 years, the legislation would have prevented foreign multinational corporations incorporated in tax haven countries from avoiding tax on income earned in the U.S.

Bill supporters said that would close a tax loophole. Republicans branded it a corporate tax increase.

The legislation is named for James Zadroga, a police detective who died at age 34. His supporters say he died from respiratory disease contracted at ground zero, but New York City's medical examiner said Zadroga's lung condition was caused by prescription drug abuse.

Members of Congress from New York and New Jersey have been pushing such a measure for years.

Similar legislation is pending in the Senate.

"After nine years we've waited long enough to do the right thing," U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler said.

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