House May Take Up 9/11 Bill Again

House leaders promise to stay in session to approve any changes Senate makes to measure

An intense lobbying effort by New York Democrats on a bill to help Sept. 11 responders paid off late Tuesday, when House leaders promised to stay in session Wednesday to approve any Senate changes to the measure.

The Democrats were worried about the bill’s fate after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) threatened to delay a vote on the measure, which would give health insurance and benefits to people who helped victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. They launched aggressive war on behalf of the measure, with one member calling on President Barack Obama to step in and help.

New York Democrats ripped Coburn for delaying the bill, which is a top priority for the New York area delegation. It appears their lobbying paid off, as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said late Tuesday that the House will stick around on Wednesday to approve a Senate version of the measure, after first being unwilling to commit to staying in town for the bill.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the bill’s primary sponsor, told POLITICO that she’d stay in town right up to the first day of the next Congress to make sure the bill’s passed. And after White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked that Daily Show host Jon Stewart should pressure Republicans to support the measure, Maloney released a fiery statement calling for Obama to step it up.

“Jon Stewart has done his part for the 9/11 health bill — now it’s the president’s turn to speak up and get personally involved in the effort to pass the legislation,” she said. “President Obama should use the bully pulpit of the presidency to urge the Senate Republican leadership not to try to run out the clock on this bill.”

There’s one other potential hurdle to the bill – keeping enough House members in town to actually vote for the bill after the all-important continuing resolution is passed Tuesday night.

An aide to a House Democrat said it’s not clear whether there will be enough members in Washington on Wednesday to vote for the bill, but said the office is hopeful.

Copyright POLIT - Politico
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