Rescue workers remove debris as they search for survivors at...

Rescue workers remove debris as they search for survivors at Ground Zero. (Sept. 15, 2001) Credit: Newsday/Viorel Florescu

An initial vote should take place this week on a bill that would provide $7.4 billion to help emergency workers who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center and are still suffering health problems, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Saturday.

Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada plans to file for cloture to end debate on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act on Monday, and that an initial Senate vote to begin formal debate on the bill could take place Wednesday.

"When I first introduced this bill in the Senate last year, no one thought we would make it to this point," Gillibrand said in a statement. "Due to the tireless effort of so many first responders and survivors, after nine long years we are close to fulfilling our duty to the 9/11 heroes, but we still have a lot of work to do."

The bill has the support of all 58 Democrats in the Senate, along with one new Republican senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois. Democrats need one more Republican to reach the crucial 60-vote majority needed to assure passage.

"This will be a moment of truth to see who will stand up for our heroes," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. "We will spend the next four days scouring the Senate for that one more Republican we need. We are leaving no stone unturned in trying to find that last vote."

A major sticking point for the Republicans in the Senate has been how Democrats want to pay for the bill. Democrats want to raise the $7.4 billion required by sealing off overseas tax loopholes.

If the measure is not passed in the Senate by year's end, it would have to start over again in Congress next year.

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