9/11 health bill looking a little stronger

9/11 HEALTH BILL LOOKING A LITTLE STRONGER…. Over the weekend, we learned that the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would pay health care costs for 9/11 rescue workers, sickened after exposure to toxic smoke and debris, wasn’t quite dead. Two weeks after a unanimous Senate GOP caucus successfully filibustered the bill, there were signs of life.

As of this morning, the momentum appeared to be on Democrats’ side. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” that the bill’s supporters “now have the votes.” The senator added, “We’ve made some modifications that some of our Republican colleagues requested and if no one does undue delay, just stands up and delays and delays and delays, we will get this done.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) added on CBS that sponsors have “changed how we are paying for the bill,” which should generate just enough Republican support to deliver “a Christmas miracle.”

They apparently won’t be getting any help from Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who seemed unimpressed with the legislation during an appearance on Fox News yesterday.

“First of all, they should have peace of mind when it comes to health care. The question is what and how? And when you try do it, as you said in your introduction, in a hurry, in a lame duck session, without a hearing, without understanding what the ramifications are and whether we can amend the bill, you’re doing it in the worst way. […]

“Nobody wants to deny care to people who, and by the way these are primarily people who helped to clean up the site in the aftermath of 9/11 and there weren’t enough adequate precautions taken in some cases to deal with potential health issues and to the extent that they’ve become ill they do need to be taken care of. It’s one thing to make an emotional appeal to say we need to care for someone who did something good. It’s another to do it in a sensible way. And that’s all we’re asking for.”

That’s not a bad pitch, except for the fact that it’s wrong. The 9/11 health bill hasn’t been done “in a hurry”‘ it’s been pending for over a year. It hasn’t been advanced “without a hearing”; the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing and advanced the bill to the floor.

And if Kyl and other far-right senators had suggested changes, they’ve had plenty of time to bring them forward. Indeed, it was GOP senators with ideas on financing that has led to changes that now make final passage possible.

For what it’s worth, Republican campaign aide Kevin Madden told Fox News yesterday, “I think there is also a lot of worry on the Republican side that what used to be a New York issue could quickly become a national issue. I think it will be approved.”

Here’s hoping that’s true.