Thursday, 09 December 2010

Republican Filibuster Blocks 9/11 Bill

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Senate Republicans proved their fortitude today when they voted to filibuster the Zadroga bill, the measure to provide health insurance to 9/11 workers. The measure failed by a vote of 57-42.

Under the leadership of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans vowed to filibuster any legislation introduced in the Senate until a settlement is reached on the Bush tax cuts and federal funding.

Seemingly testing the water, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced the 9/11 health bill to the floor today. However, even Republicans who would have otherwise supported the bill maintained their promise to remain committed to the extension of the tax cuts and filibustered the legislation.

The New York Daily News writes that the Republican opposition to the bill is, for some, only temporary. “At least one Republican has expressed support for passing the bill, and others have suggested they’ll think about it once the tax deal is done.”

The failed legislation provoked the anger of 9/11 responders like John Feal, a Ground Zero construction worker, who said, “The United States Senate embarrassed itself today. It made a mockery of the political system that we believe in — and they failed us.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer all articulated disappointed sentiments over the vote.

Congressional Republicans, aware that a failure to vote on the tax cuts will ultimately result in tax increases across the board, have set their priorities. The time sensitivity of the expiring Bush era tax cuts places it at the top of the Republicans’ agenda.

Senator Reid maintains the right to bring the measure back at any time, as he voted “no” to reserve that right.

However, according to the Daily News, “Bill backers in the House are trying a different tack, attempting to attach the Zadroga bill to the tax package.”

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