9/11 Worker Health Care Bill Expected to Fail in House - NBC New York

9/11 Worker Health Care Bill Expected to Fail in House



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    New York City firefighters exit the walkway leading down into ground zero after finishing a shift on the cleanup and recovery effort at the disaster site of the World Trade Center March 7, 2002 in New York City.

    Sick Ground Zero workers might be left to shoulder their own medical costs as House Representatives choke on their own party stances.

    A bill to provide for workers affected by toxic Ground Zero dust is expected to fail in the House today as squabbling Democrats and Republicans can't seem to reach an agreement on who should get what and who should pay for it.

    Republicans first balked when Democrats announced that the program would be paid by a tax on foreign companies' stateside branches. 

    Now Democrats have used a procedure called suspension to prevent Republicans from making amendments to the bill. It will have to be passed as is it stands, without changes, but needs a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority.

    The move will prevent Republicans from amending the bill to prevent illegal immigrants who worked at Ground Zero from receiving health care, and from adding a measure to undercut the health care bill passed earlier this year -- two clauses Democrats opposed.

    Republicans, initially opposed to the tax increase that the bill entails, are now angry at being shut out of the discussion.  Twelve Republicans are expected to vote in favor of the bill, but it probably not enough to pass the legislation, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    Unable to debate the bill in a formal, professional way, some Congressional representatives are resorting to secondhand insults via the media.

    "The Democrats are afraid of a tough vote, and they'd rather let cops and firefighters die," Long Island Republican Peter King told the Journal.

    "I'm not sure what he's squealing about," Staten Island Democrat Michael McMahon said in response to King's comments.  "If he can't deliver the votes then he shouldn't be pointing fingers."

    Ground Zero worker groups and other civilian supporters of the bill are furious at yet another delay. They say if the bill doesn't pass today, they will try again in two months in the hopes that public pressure will force lawmakers to support the initiative.