The 9/11 health bill was dealt a major blow Thursday when Senate Republicans filibustered the measure, effectively shutting down debate and stalling its passage.
The bill, which would extend $7.4 billion in health aid to rescue workers and survivors who fell ill after clearing debris at Ground Zero, failed to earn the 60 votes needed to advance. All 41 Republicans voted against it, making good on a promise not to promote any legislation until the Senate acts on how to fund the federal government and extend Bush-era tax cuts.
“The men and women who rushed to the burning towers and worked for hundreds of hours on the pile did not delay and the Senate should not have delayed either, certainly not to give tax breaks for millionaires,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a leading advocate for the bill, also known as the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act.
Democrats believed this lame-duck session was the best shot for passing the bill, after the House approved its version in September. Next year, the Republicans take over control of the House.
A spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the legislation could be brought up again after the funding and tax cut bills the Republicans want are completed.
Meanwhile, dozens of House members say the 9/11 bill should be included in the tax cut legislation that the Republicans are endorsing with President Barack Obama.