Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is there enough time left for the Zadroga bill?

Teamsters working at Ground Zero.
Cross your fingers. The bill to care for sick 9/11 first responders might still pass. Several Republican senators indicated they might vote for the bill. If they vote to break their own party's filibuster (not the same thing as voting for the bill), the Zadroga Act would become law.

But the clock is ticking. There isn't much time left before this Congress goes home for good, and the Senate still has other business to deal with. Some Republicans may decide to stall the Zadroga bill. Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn told Politico on Monday night he might block it. Reports Politico,
New York Democrats hoping for quick action on a bill to give health care compensation to Ground Zero workers are about to run into Tom Coburn. The Oklahoma Republican and physician -- known in the Senate as "Dr. No" for his penchant in blocking bills -- told POLITICO Monday night he wouldn't allow the bill to move quickly, saying he has problems with parts of the bill and the process Democrats are employing. Other Republicans like Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said he had concerns with the measure and said it should instead move through the committee process.
Enzi and Arizona Sen. John Kyl are claiming the bill needs more time. They're full of crap. As ThinkProgress notes,
...the Senate and House version of the bill have been available to Kyl and anyone else to read since 2009, and there was in fact a Senate hearing on it in June, even though he insists it never happened. Meanwhile, changes to bill have been made at the GOP’s behest...
If the Zadroga Act doesn't pass this year, it may never pass.  According to Jay Newton-Small at Time,
If the Zadroga bill does not pass now, it is unlikely to make it through a GOP-controlled House and an expanded Republican minority in the Senate next year. Despite the fact that the bill's been bouncing around for the last two years, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate Republican, over the weekend called for more time to look at the bill. One GOP leadership aide told me today that the bill's odds were still dim, and even a Democratic leadership aide conceded that “time is the only thing that could stop it, it seems.” As the sick and dying first responders know all too well, time is of the essence.

Stay tuned.