Tuesday, September 21, 2010

House Democrats Punt on 9/11 First Responder Bill; Senate Moves Ahead

This time, there's absolutely no ambiguity over who is to blame for again failing to address and pass a first responder medical assistance package. Democrats have delayed the vote once again, even though there were signs that it would have been done this week. Democrats are claiming that the want a pledge from Republicans to not attach an anti-illegal immigration provision to the bill.

That follows yesterday's surprise announcement that the Senate would attach the provisions to the military funding bill. The $7.4 billion package, named after James Zadroga, would provide medical treatment and assistance for Ground Zero responders suffering from medical ailments that can be traced to the responders' work at Ground Zero.

However, even the Senate version isn't a done deal given that the Democrats attached a provision to end "don't ask, don't tell" and another provision that would grant kids of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship if they are in the armed services or college which has Republicans upset.

That's all despite the fact that a new slew of studies have found that those firefighters who worked at Ground Zero have four times worse lung capacity than those firefighters had before the 9/11 attacks. Children living in Chinatown have an increased susceptibility to lung ailments, and one study even noted that a group children born to women who were pregnant on 9/11 suffered from a wide range of ailments that are seemingly linked to the exposure to contaminants released in the collapsing towers.

In other words, good legislation that would ordinarily pass with widespread support is being used as a political football by both parties to attach (or threaten to attach) more offensive and controversial legislation.

Some legislation should be above this kind of petty politics; this is one of those situations.

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