Moments ago, the United States Senate voted to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, named after a police detective who worked at Ground Zero and died from lung problems as a result. Up until this morning, the future of the bill was questionable as Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma threatened to prevent the measure from reaching the floor. Once Coburn struck a deal with Senate Democrats that lowered the cost of the bill, however, the legislation was taken up by unanimous consent, without debate or a roll call vote.
Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn announced that he will block the 9/11 Responders bill from coming to the Senate floor before Christmas. Coburn and his Republican colleagues have articulated numerous concerns with the bill, including the $6.2 billion cost.
The new START Treaty appears to be on its way to ratification as pressure to move forward on the treaty has increased. According to the AFP, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have targeted wary lawmakers to encourage support of the treaty. Meanwhile, a vote to end debate on the treaty is expected to take place today or tomorrow.
On Monday, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey signed an order commuting Brian Aitken's sentence from seven years to time served.
Aitken was convicted in early 2009 in New Jersey for illegally possessing two handguns, a "high capacity magazine," and hollow point ammunition, all of which he purchased legally from a Bass Pro Shop outlet in Colorado.