Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 19, 2010

9/11 HEALTH BILL NOT QUITE DEAD.... Two weeks ago, a unanimous Senate GOP caucus blocked a debate on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would pay health care costs for 9/11 rescue workers, sickened after exposure to the toxic smoke and debris. Given the limited time remaining in the lame-duck session, it appeared Republicans had killed the bill.

But as of late yesterday, the 9/11 health bill had a pulse.

Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand said Saturday that she and other sponsors of a stalled 9/11 health bill had won new Republican support for the measure and intended to try again to pass it before the end of the 111th Congress.

Following the Senate's vote to repeal the ban on gays serving in the military, Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said Democrats intended to resurrect the health initiative in the coming days after falling three votes short of breaking a filibuster against it earlier this month.

"We have the votes we need," Ms. Gillibrand said. "We have indications from several Republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill."

As of two weeks ago, the bill had 58 votes, made up entirely of every member of the Democratic caucus. There's apparently been some movement, though, on the two GOP votes needed to end the Republican filibuster.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) had promised to vote for the bill, then reversed course, and now appears ready to reverse course again. He'd be vote #59. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), meanwhile, said yesterday that she, too, is prepared to vote for the Zadroga bill, so long as it has the "appropriate offsets."

That's really the key -- what we're left with is a debate about a funding mechanism. The way the bill is currently shaped, Democrats pay for the health costs for 9/11 heroes by closing tax loopholes for foreign businesses that do business in the United States. This has drawn the ire of Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has demanded the loopholes remain in place.

Collins, in effect, has told Gillibrand and other Dems that the bill can pass if they pay for it some other way, and yesterday, talks for an alternative funding mechanism appeared to be progressing. Details are a little sketchy, but the new plan would apparently include new visa fees and a 2% fee on some procurement contracts.

The next challenge would be finding floor time before the Senate wraps up for the year. As Gillibrand sees it, this can and should follow New START ratification this week. Stay tuned.

Steve Benen 9:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Perhaps some funding from the Bush Presidential Library could be diverted. After all, his negligence enabled 9/11 to happen in the first place. What a brilliant PR stroke it would be.

Oh wait, his library is paid for by the same people who look down their noses at the first responders.

Posted by: boc on December 19, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

WOW. After laughing about killing the Omnibus Bill, Sen. Kirk voted for DADT repeal and is on the good side here as well. Very promising for the future.

And, Harry Reid. A new MAN!

Posted by: Mark-NC on December 19, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Why does Zadroga need the appropriate offsets but extending tax cuts for billionaires does not? I hope this deal gets done, and it could be easily paid for by raising taxes on our overlords.

Posted by: boc on December 19, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

So we can pass fees on to Americans but we can not close a tax loophole on foreign companies that remove money from America. The Chamber of Commerce needs to be brought down a peg or two. The bill is needed and should be passed by both houses in any case. It is bad when one or two senators can always get their own way never compromise and always screw things up. Stimulus anyone!!

Posted by: iyoumeweus on December 19, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

With 'friends' like the USCOC, who needs terrorists?

Posted by: boc on December 19, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Let them breath smoke!"
Oh no, we can't close a loophole for foreigners that do business in the US. No, no, no.
OK then, I have an idea: Why not tax the American businesses that OUTSOURCE jobs to pay for the 9/11 first responders?

Look you dipshit Senators from podunk states, I know that no terrorist is probably ever going to attack your little provinvcial state capital, or the petting zoo that's a county's biggest tourist draw, but think about this:
Who, in their right minds, in the future will EVER want to respond to an emergency like 9/11 when, not if, it happens again?
Well, seeing how you treated these "Heroes" as YOU called them (and they are), stood next to them in photo-ops, and lauded in your BS-filled speaches on the floor, and then categorically dumped the minute you found out that they may need some care besides a routine band-aid and some iodine, who will want to do what needs to be done?
Now ask your stupid selves, Senators, how you'd feel if one of your own family members was in a horrible situation like NY or DC on 9/11, and all of the workers looked, turned around, and said, "Uhm, no thanks. Look at how you treated my late colleagues over the last decade. You, Senator, can risk your own fat ass to save them. Mine's going home."*
RepubliConfederate Senators, you may have one more chance to seem like human beings. I suggest you take it. If for no other reason, then maybe this time the major TV networks might notice.
The horror... the horror... the horror...

*I know that none of the great 1st responders in this country would ever say that, but just imagine...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 19, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

So they won't close tax loopholes on FORIEGN companies...but will PUT SOME SORT OF FEE ON AMERICANS for credit cards? That is just wrong!

Posted by: LTC on December 19, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

I think part of the reason for the resistance to paying for the health care of the 9/11 first responders is that somewhere down the road, it will lead to investigations and discoveries into exactly what is causing the illnesses. That could lead to examination of the composition of the debris and dust inhaled, which could turn out to be a chemical(s) which shouldn't have been in the air in that quantity. In other words, the worst fears of Dick Cheney and the neocons would be realized -- complicity by unknown persons within the country.

Posted by: boc on December 19, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

FOREIGN companies???

Arthur Jensen: "There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! . . . There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those *are* the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that... perfect world... in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused."

Posted by: Steve Paradis on December 19, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

"We have the votes we need," Ms. Gillibrand said. "We have indications from several Republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill."

Who has a gun to their fucking heads. What prevented them for voting for it weeks ago?

This is pure fucking bullshit, and the MSM ignores it. I would hate to be any GOP senator (not to mention Katie Couric, Matt Lauer or any of those other network hacks) if they ever got within earshot of me.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 19, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to know which Republican Senators who voted against Zadroga (all of them) also capitalized on the Joe the Plumber phenomenon in 2008. Can a Democrat capitalize on the disconnect and hypocrisy?

Posted by: boc on December 19, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

The Senate should do the right thing and pass this bill immediately. As Americans, we need to stand up for these 9/11 first responders in New York.

Posted by: max on December 19, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

OT - Why has Mark Kirk been seated in the senate already?

Posted by: CDW on December 19, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I find it utterly disgusting that a group of people, in this case, republicans, used 9/11 as their mantra for seven years to get bills passed and get elected then spit in the responders faces. They might as well just say: Eat dust and die!
And boc, I'm with you. There are just too many questions I have about the way those buildings collapsed and the billows of dust that flowed down the streets that deserve a thorough examination and investigation. I think too much would be revealed about the sloppiness of the way they were built to begin with along with what was in them.

Posted by: Schtick on December 19, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Well yes, it's always been the colossal hypocrisy of waving the flag and later flogging the cheering crowd. But in this case, it's so specific a group being targeted, the 9/11 first responders. From some entity's point of view, the sooner they die, the better. The fewer witnesses alive, the better. I don't know who the entity is which would benefit from keeping the status quo, the official story, exactly as it is. I could speculate on the entities mentioned in the comment by Steve Paradis and note the intertwined relationship between the government and the corporations, and particularly the people who do those jobs and serve in those posts.

Joe the Plumber is not using that revolving door. He is a tool who questioned the black man running for president. A misinformed corporate-news-fed ordinary corner-cutting handyman, who looked the part for the role in which he was ultimately cast.

Posted by: boc on December 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

This is surely only because Jon Stewart's show made headlines of Republican nastiness; all other media were letting them get away with it.

And news that the US Chamber of Commerce lobbied republicans against this bill on behalf of FOREIGN COMPANIES who didn't want to see their 'tax bills' go up because of it (???) ought to be another nail in their crummy little coffins.

Posted by: jjm on December 19, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Schtick -- something else for the mind to boggle at.


The very face of Evil Establishment Banality.

Posted by: boc on December 19, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

So they won't close tax loopholes on FORIEGN companies...but will PUT SOME SORT OF FEE ON AMERICANS for credit cards? That is just wrong!

Visas, not Visa cards.

Posted by: shortstop on December 19, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans will try to take credit for it passing this time, and the Villagers will let them.

Posted by: neil b. on December 19, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

CDW -- I think it was something to do with President Obama's seat. There was a choice to vote twice for Kirk. Remainder of one term, and the regular rotation of six years.

neil b -- The basis for taking credit will be whatever the hostage is worth at the time -- IOW, what will be the alternate choice of Zadroga funding. If it isnt' related to Social Security or another BS tax cut for Rush Limbaugh, it'll be a claim to save money for the Murkin taxpayer (as if the USCOC speaks for anyone but the top 2%).

Posted by: boc on December 19, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Health means fitness well being energy & strength in the broader sense a person in all aspects. It is also a level of functional or metabolic efficiency of an organism often completely human.

Posted by: safeurlives on December 20, 2010 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK



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