QUOTE OF THE DAY…. The Senate yesterday afternoon unanimously approved its version of the Zadroga 9/11 health bill, and sent it to the House before lawmakers adjourned and left town.
Not surprisingly, the House followed suit and passed the bill, though more than a third of the chamber was already empty. The final vote was 206 to 60, with 59 Republicans and one Blue Dog voting against it.
But it’s worth pondering what those 60 were thinking. After all, they knew it was going to pass anyway, and saw that even the most right-wing members of the Senate were satisfied with the scaled-back compromise that was struck in the late morning. These five dozen conservatives also, in all likelihood, realized that much of the American mainstream would consider them sociopathic for fighting as dead-enders against health care for sick 9/11 heroes.
So why vote against it anyway, knowing it wouldn’t affect the outcome? Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), one of the 60, boasted about her opposition.
“The last vote taken by this Congress offered a sad commentary on the abysmal lame duck session that was run by the Democrat [sic] majority. Almost 40 percent of House members were not even present for the vote on the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Additionally, Members of Congress have a responsibility to review bills before they vote, but Speaker Pelosi hurried this bill through, disregarding normal House procedure. […]
“At a time when government spending is out-of-control this Congress should not have pushed a bill with more than $4 billion in new spending through this lame duck session.”
As a matter of fact-checking, it’s not the leadership’s fault 168 members didn’t stick around for the final vote — their absences are irrelevant to the bill’s merit. For that matter, the Zadroga bill had already been voted on the House twice before, so it’s not like Bachmann and her cohorts were seeing this for the first time.
But what’s really fascinating here is Bachmann’s pride in rejecting the funds for 9/11 rescue workers’ care. In her mind, spending $4 billion is necessarily bad, because, well, it’s spending $4 billion. If there’s one expenditure even the most unhinged Republican should be comfortable with, it’s care for 9/11 first responders, especially if it doesn’t add a penny to the deficit, but by Bachmann’s standards, that’s just not the case.
What’s more, Matt Finkelstein sets the record straight on some of the details Bachmann doesn’t quite grasp: “Aside from the obvious problem of misplaced priorities — she’s willing to spend hundreds of billions on tax breaks for top earners, but not $4 billion on health benefits for rescue workers who breathed in toxic fumes at Ground Zero — Bachmann is confused. The Zadroga Act is ‘paid for with a fee on some foreign firms that get U.S. government procurement contracts.’ So it’s not exactly “new spending,” despite what Bachmann says.”