THE VOTE ON THE 9/11 HEALTH BILL THAT STANDS OUT…. As we talked about yesterday, a unanimous Republican caucus blocked a vote on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The bill would have paid health care costs for 9/11 rescue workers, sickened after exposure to the toxic smoke and debris, but literally every member of the Senate GOP caucus not only opposed it, but refused to even let the chamber vote on it.
All of the Senate Republicans are equally responsible for the bill’s failure, but there was one vote in particular that stood out.
When the House passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in September, Mark Kirk (R-IL) was one of just seventeen Republicans who voted to provide “medical treatment to rescue workers and residents of New York City who suffered illnesses from breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke at ground zero.”
Kirk, who replaced Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) in the Senate last month, reportedly pledged that he would support the first responders’ health care bill in the upper chamber. Today, however, he joined a Republican filibuster of the legislation, defeating what some are calling “the last real opportunity” to pass it.
Kirk had already committed to supporting the legislation. In fact, last month, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), an enthusiastic backer of the 9/11 health bill, assured supporters that Kirk’s support was in the bag. “Mark, I understand, is being sworn in December 1st, on or about,” King said. “He has told me he will definitely vote for the bill, no if’s, and’s, or but’s. He’s voting for the bill.”
He didn’t vote for the bill.
Apparently, the problem wasn’t with the legislation itself, but rather, with Kirk’s priorities — he helped block the 9/11 health bill because he’s blocking everything until Republicans secure the tax cuts they want for the wealthy.
Just so we’re clear here, Mark Kirk promised to support legislation to provide health care to 9/11 rescue workers, and then went back on his word, and wouldn’t even give the bill an up-or-down vote, because he thinks tax breaks for millionaires are more important.
What’s more, also note that Kirk could have kept his word and the bill would have failed anyway. It needed 60 votes to overcome Republican obstructionism, and his vote would have been #59. Instead, Kirk stuck with his party.
I wonder how many folks in Illinois will hear about this.