House Finally Passes Ground Zero Responder Bill

We recently wrote that the US House of Representatives was, again, looking into a bill to provide about $7.4 billion to sickened <"">World Trade Center (WTC) rescue and recovery workers, with similar measures pending in the Senate. The Ground Zero Responder Bill finally passed in the house and will provide WTC workers sickened after their work at the site free health care and compensation. The bill failed in July over party line issues.

According to CNN, the bill passed on a 268-160 partisan vote and noted that the Senate has not yet looked at the issue. President Barack Obama, who long supported the bill, said in a statement, “It is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks,” quoted CNN. “I applaud the House for its support of this bill and for standing up on behalf of these heroes, who served our country in its time of greatest need. I look forward to Congress completing consideration of this legislation so I can sign it into law,” President Obama added.

Representative Carolyn Maloney (Democrat-New York) hailed the bill’s passage as a “long overdue victory,” saying, quoted CNN, “To the living heroes and heroines of 9/11, we have very good news…. Help is on the way. We passed your bill in the House of Representatives.” Another New York Democrat, Jerrold Nadler, described himself as being “extremely emotional” over the win, adding that “We won a major victory today, and I am overjoyed…. Today, we put aside a little politics and we did a little right and a little good,” quoted CNN.

Republicans argued about the $7.4 billion price tag, while Democrats called for the government to help those who were involved in the rescue and recovery efforts of what is considered the deadliest terror attack in the history of the US, explained CNN.

New York Republican, Representative Peter King, not only backed the measure, he stood with Maloney and Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, while they celebrated their victory. “What we did was what we had to do,” King said, speaking to a group of WTC first responders who stood with the representatives at a podium announcing the bill’s passage, said CNN. “What you did was what you volunteered to do. It took a long time, and I’m sorry for that,” he said, quoted CNN. “You can finally get justice after all these years,” King added.

An argument between King and Democrat Anthony Weiner, both Congressmen from New York, during the floor debate prior to the vote this summer was being blamed for the bill’s loss this summer, said the Associated Press (AP) previously. It was a decision, taken up by Democrats, to adopt the 2/3rds majority rule that sparked the event, explained the AP; the procedure would, in effect, block possible amendments. According to Maloney and Nadler, a simple majority is all that was now needed.

The legislation is named after James Zadroga, a police detective who, say supporters, died as a result of respiratory disease developed due to his work at Ground Zero; however, the NY City medical examiner maintains the lung disease was due to prescription drug abuse, wrote the AP. Zadroga was 34.

There are challenges in proving some illnesses because of a dearth of peer-reviewed information linking some diagnoses to Ground Zero toxins and so little being known about the large mix of carcinogens and other toxins at the site.

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