9/11 Health Bill Backers Unveil Police Exhibit - NBC New York

9/11 Health Bill Backers Unveil Police Exhibit



    Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg talk about why the health bill needs to be passed. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010)

    Backers of a bill to aid workers who became sick after working in the World Trade Center's ruins are hoping a display of police badges will help build support.

    The badges of 29 New York City Police Department members who assisted in rescue efforts and who supporters say later died from 9/11-related illnesses are being exhibited in Washington on Monday.

    Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is joining New York's Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and other lawmakers in unveiling the exhibit on Capitol Hill.

    Supporters are making a bipartisan push for the bill, which has already passed the House, during the lame duck session of Congress.

    The bill would provide free health care and compensation to 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who fell ill after working in the Trade Center ruins.

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped lobby GOP senators Scott Brown of Massachusetts, John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine.

    "We all know this is an issue of national importance," said Bloomberg.

    GOP critics have branded the bill as a big-government program that would boost taxes and kill jobs.

    To pay the estimated $7.4 billion cost over 10 years, the legislation requires multinational companies incorporated in tax havens to pay taxes on income earned in the U.S. Bill supporters said that would close a tax loophole. Republicans have branded it a corporate tax increase.

    Researchers have found that people exposed to the thick clouds of pulverized building materials at the trade center site have high rates of asthma and sinus problems. Many firefighters also suffered a reduction in lung power. Doctors aren't sure, though, exactly how many people are ill, and scientific doubt persists about just how many of the hundreds of illnesses are actually linked to the trade center dust.

    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.