I suspect that Fox News devotees are among the few members of Congress who showed their patriotic duty Thursday night by blocking aide ($7.4 billion for health care and compensation) for these same workers, now that it’s clear they’re sick and need help.
Failing to get these workers the help they need was not for lack of trying by a majority of the House, who were forced to use procedural rules to prevent a small number of bill opponents from trying to load the bill up with special interest amendments.
That meant two-thirds majority were needed to pass the bill. They got a majority. They didn’t get two thirds.
To pay for this, the bill “would have prevented foreign multinational corporations incorporated in tax haven countries from avoiding tax on income earned in the U.S.” No matter. Critics decided to brand it anyway as “another big-government ‘massive new entitlement program’ that will raise taxes and kill jobs."
So it’s back to the courts for these workers, who must decide by September 8 whether to accept a much smaller settlement. Ninety-five percent of the 10,000 who sued must accept it for the settlement to take effect. AP reports, “For weeks, a judge and teams of lawyers have been urging 10,000 former ground zero workers to sign on to a court-supervised settlement” totaling $713 million – far less than what a majority in Congress wanted. That means, “Only the most seriously ill of the thousands of police officers, firefighters and construction workers suing New York City over their exposure to the dust would be eligible for a hefty payout.”
A lot of people from both parties were outraged by the House inaction, like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said that “the nation owes more to ‘the people who worked down at 9/11 whose health has fallen apart because they did what America wanted them to do.’”
Ground zero demolition worker John Feal used considerable restraint when he noted, “Whatever member of Congress voted against this bill, whether Republican or Democrat, should go to jail for manslaughter.”
I have a feeling Congressman Anthony Weiner might agree. Weiner, who championed the bill on behalf of many workers who live in his New York district, “spoke right before the vote when it was clear that Republican lawmakers would stake their opposition on grounds of procedural concerns. But for the grace of the C-SPAN cameras, he managed to stay physically behind his lectern.” Check it out.