We all know that the public has a highly negative view of Congress. But did you know that “the ratings of Congress are even worse among those who know the most about" it with 66% of those individuals rating Congress as poor or bad and only 7% as excellent or good. So beware. I’m about to provide you with a little information about what our leaders in Congress are - and are not - doing this week when it comes to dying (or at least very sick) victims.
Let’s start with “aren’t.” John Stewart went on The Daily Show yesterday unable to contain his contempt for Speaker Paul Ryan, and (mostly) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This is due to their continuing failure to renew the law to cover health care for dying 9/11 workers (which we last covered here). Specifically,
Stewart came back to The Daily Show on Monday to continue his public shaming of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for stonewalling the extension of a bill that would guarantee health care for 9/11 first responders.“
Here’s what I believe it is: Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky doesn’t give a sh*t about anything but politics,” Stewart told Trevor Noah. “The first responders were told the Zadroga Act would be included — they were told this last week — in the transportation bill passed last week. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky pulled it out of the transportation bill when he didn’t get concessions about loosening oil export regulations.”
“So he used the health of the 9/11 first responders as a bargaining chip to make it easier to sell oil?” Noah asked.
“Yes, Trevor — he’s not nice!” Stewart yelled.
The bill was originally passed in the wake of a December 2010 roundtable discussion Stewart hosted featuring four first-responders. But after the audience cheered Noah’s suggestion that Stewart bring back the panel, the former host revealed that only one, Kenny Specht, was physically able to return to the show; two were sick as a result to their experience working after the attacks, and one died.
Yes, there is a lot Congress could be doing to help dying Americans. Indeed, out of nowhere, leaders have decided to introduce and hold immediate hearings on (among others bills) the “Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2015.” This bill, H.R. 4152, is about Automatic External Defibrillators (AED's) and based on its haughty title, you might think it’s a bill to require certain places to maintain AED’s on site. You know, to save lives? No, this bill’s entire point is to extend immunity that AED users basically already have under Good Samaritan laws. Now, owners, tenants, property managers, and others with AED's on their premises (like your gym) would also have immunity. And the bill would interfere with how individual states would prefer to handle liability in these situations.
As usual, there is no lawsuit “problem” for Congress to solve here. According to the American Association for Justice (citing expert sources),
[O]f the few cases that do exist, none arose over improper use of an AED.
Nearly all AED lawsuits arise because a facility that reasonably should have an AED did not have an AED onsite (i.e. a large gym), or had one but failed to use it (i.e. locked the AED in the nurses office or forbid staff to use the AED).
So the very few lawsuits that do exist involve an AED’s availability - which this bill does not even mandate!
In 2000, Congress established “Good Samaritan” immunity for people who acquire AED's or use them in emergencies. And states already have Good Samaritan AED laws, as well. Yet somehow, this has risen to the level of a federal crisis. And as if they have nothing better to do. Sad.