Supporters Urge 9/11 Vote Before Recess

The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a scaled-back bill that would help sick World Trade Center workers, and the White House is asking Republicans to abandon what it called an "awful" bid to block the legislation.

New York's two Democratic Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, said they believe they have the 60 votes need to pass the reconfigured bill,  which trims the cost to $6.2 billion from $7.4 billion.  

The legislation, which has been caught up in the fierce partisanship of a lame duck Congress, is expected to come up for debate shortly after a vote on a renewed Russian arms treaty Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Schumer said supporters have been able to drum up enough support to pass the bill -- but Republicans could still run out the clock before a vote. 

"We plead with them -- please do not do that. That is not fair. That is not right."

"All these heroes are asking for is an up-or-down vote before Christmas. Waiting until next year would be a lump of coal, and we will not stand for it," he said.

The legisation would offer health care to firefighters, police and first responders who fell ill after working at the World Trade Center site following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

OnTuesday, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn told Fox News he was opposed to the bill because it lacked accounting standards and would likely cost more money.

"We're going to pass a bill -- and then we're going to have to come back and fix it, and we're going to waste a whole bunch more money and not fix the real problem which is taking care of those people who are so desperately dependent on it," Coburn said.

But the bill got an extra boost when House leaders promised to stay in session Wednesday to approve any Senate changes to the measure.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs urged Republicans to allow the bill to come up for a vote before Christmas.

"It seems, at the end of a long year, around the holiday season, a pretty awful thing to play politics about," Gibbs said.

Supporters of the bill rallied in Washington ahead of the vote. They recalled how Congress took steps to help civilian victims of the Pearl Harbor attack and urged similar help for 9/11 victims.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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