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.

The Obama Administration is working behind the scenes to overturn a rule, implemented by President Bush in 2008, that re-enforces the rights of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers to refuse on moral or ethical grounds their professional involvement in abortions.

Last weekend, the United States Senate voted 65-31 in favor of repealing the 17-year military policy, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The Senate vote followed a Thursday night vote in the House of Representatives, where the repeal was passed by a vote of 250-175. However, though the policy was repealed through the legislative process, lawmakers have elected to allow the military to write the rules on the process of repealing the ban on homosexual service members.

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