House finally approves Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

HOUSE FINALLY APPROVES ZADROGA 9/11 HEALTH AND COMPENSATION ACT…. A bill that should have been one of the year’s most obvious no-brainers passed today, about three months later than it should have.

The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would pay health care costs for 9/11 rescue workers, sickened after exposure to the toxic smoke and debris. The legislation was fully paid for, financed by closing a tax loophole for American companies that try to hide their headquarters at P.O. box in the Caymans.

The GOP trashed the bill, calling the health care money a “slush fund.” In July, it needed a two-thirds majority to pass, and it came up short — nearly every Democrat voted for it, and nearly every Republican voted against it.

Today, the House tried again, and this time it passed.

The final vote was 268 to 160. Among the majority, 251 Democrats voted for it, while only three voted against it. On the other side of the aisle, 17 House Republicans voted for the bill, while 157 opposed it.

The bill calls for providing $3.2 billion over the next eight years to monitor and treat injuries stemming from exposure to toxic dust and debris at ground zero. New York City would have paid 10 percent of those health costs. The bill seeks to set aside $4.2 billion to reopen the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund to provide compensation for any job and economic losses.

In addition, the bill contains a provision that would have allowed money from the Victim Compensation Fund to be paid out to anyone who receives payment under the pending settlement stemming from lawsuits that 10,000 rescue and cleanup workers filed against the city.

Just so we’re perfectly clear, a month before national elections, 90% of House Republicans voted against health care benefits for sick 9/11 heroes. Seriously. This is the party that’s expected to do extremely well in November.

Indeed, the House GOP held the bill in such contempt, they tried to play yet another petty, partisan game with the legislation — they pushed a poison-pill motion to recommit this afternoon, which would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act and added the GOP’s “tort reform” measure to the bill.

What happens now? President Obama strongly supports the legislation, but it may very well die in the Senate, which wouldn’t consider the bill until the lame-duck session, if at all.