December 20, 2010

‘Christmas Miracle’ Could Lead To Passage Of 9/11 Heath Bill

Senators say that they are on the verge of what some are calling "a Christmas miracle"--the passing of a bill designed to help people who fell ill in the aftermath of the September 11 World Trade Center attack cleanup efforts.

"We are on the verge of a Christmas miracle," New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand told the Associated Press (AP) on Monday. Gillibrand, who along with fellow Democrat Charles Schumer have proposed a lower-cost alternative to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill.

That bill, designed to provide health care to those who responded in the wake of the 9/11 disaster nine years ago, failed to garner enough Republican support to pass in the Senate. It was approved in the House of Representatives by a vote of 268-160.

According to AP, the GOP's main concerns were centered on the cost of the bill, as well as questions regarding the government's ability to raise the required funds. The revised bill, however, reduces the cost from $7.4 billion over the next decade to $6.2 billion.

Furthermore, Democrats and Republicans were at odds over a provision in the original legislation that would have forced multinational corporations to pay taxes on income earned in the United States.

The revised bill would scrap that, instead earning the required funds through fees on certain foreign firms who have been awarded American government contracts, as well as charges for company that use select types of visas and travelers who fail to present their travel visas at U.S. airports.

"Barring a setback, we believe we're on the path to victory by the end of this week," Schumer, a longtime supporter of the bill named in honor of late police detective and Ground Zero response team member James Zadroga, told reporters.

"New York and New Jersey lawmakers have waged a long, bitter fight for the measure, saying it is morally wrong not to do more for the health needs of ailing 9/11 responders and survivors," the AP wrote on Monday.

However, the news agency added that, while "researchers have found that people exposed to the thick clouds of pulverized building materials at the trade center site have high rates of asthma and sinus problems"¦ scientific doubt persists about just how many of the hundreds of illnesses are actually linked" to the dust particles that originated from the fallen trade center dust.


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