Monday, December 20, 2010

New hope for Zadroga 9/11 bill

Teamsters working at Ground Zero.
It looked all but hopeless as Congress winds down for the year, but it turns out there's still a chance the Zadroga Act will become law.

The bill would pay for monitoring and treating the 9/11 first responders who suffer health problems -- like terminal cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and heart disease. It's named after a NYPD officer who died of respiratory disease attributed to working at Ground Zero.

Devlin Barrett at the Wall Street Journal reports,
New York lawmakers said Sunday they have crafted a scaled-down version of a health-care bill for sick Ground Zero workers that should garner enough Republican support to pass...Supporters of the bill believe that the smaller price tag—the overall cost was cut to $6.2 billion from $7.4 billion—combined with a different method of paying for the legislation, will be enough to win yes votes from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska...
New York political leaders are holding a press conference right now to urge Congress to pass the bill.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has lobbied against the bill because it's paid for by eliminating a tax loophole for foreign corporations. According to Think Progress,
The Chamber fought to help kill the 9/11 compensation bill because it was funded by ending a special tax loophole exploited by foreign corporations doing business in the United States...In September, the Chamber sent a letter officially opposing the 9/11 first responders bill, called the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.” The Chamber warned that ending the tax loophole would “damage U.S. relationships with major trading partners” and “aggravate already unsettled financial markets.” A lobbying disclosure filed with the Senate confirms the Chamber contacted lawmakers to help kill the bill. In typical fashion, the Chamber has not revealed which of its foreign members had asked them to kill the 9/11 bill.
One more thing: If you haven't seen the tremendous video of Jon Stewart and four 9/11 first responders reacting to the Senate filibuster of the bill, you must. Watch it here.