Politics

Senate Republicans Block Health Care for 9/11 Heroes

| by AFL-CIO

Senate Republicans this morning continued their unprecedented obstructionism by using Senate rules to block long-sought and vital health care services for the 9/11 first responders and recovery workers who are suffering alarming rates of health problems, including several deaths of Ground Zero workers.

The 57-42 vote fell three votes short of the 60 needed to end the Republican filibuster on the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act (H.R. 847). The bill is named after a New York City police officer who died in 2006 from lung ailments tied to his exposure to the toxic mix of chemicals, jet fuel, asbestos, lead, glass fragments and other debris at Ground Zero. The bill would have provided long-term medical care and monitoring for the first responders, recovery workers and others exposed to the Ground Zero.

This morning’s action follows last night’s blockades of a bill to protect the collective bargaining rights of public safety officers and legislation that would have provided a much needed $250 cost of living supplemental payment for Social Security recipients. They have gone two years without a cost of living adjustment.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says these “cheap politic tactics…mark a new low for Senate Republicans.”

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Senate Republicans have escalated their obstructionism, with a devastating impact on working people. Fixated on ensuring tax giveaways for the rich, they refused even to debate a series of bills to address some of the most pressing issues facing working families.

Impeding passage of the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act denies long-term medical care and monitoring for the heroes who answered our nation’s call on September 11.

More than 13,000 World Trade Center responders are sick and receiving treatment. Nearly 53,000 responders are enrolled in medical monitoring. Some 71,000 are enrolled in the World Trade Center health registry indicating that they were exposed to the toxins

The House passed the 9/11 health care bill in September 268 to160, with 13 Republican votes. But Senate action stalled amid reports that minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was the major stumbling block.