Debate is expected to begin Wednesday in the Senate on H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a cloture motion on Monday. Senate Republicans had also vowed no action on legislation until the pressing tax issues were settled, and the Obama-GOP agreement appears to accomplish that prerequisite.
The debate will no doubt provide more edification along these lines:
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), statement, Dec. 5: "Let's put politics aside, engage in a thorough and respectful debate, and then let each senator decide for themselves."
- Matt Canter, Gillibrand spokesman, quoted in New York Post, Dec. 7: "Right now, Republicans are holding health care for 9/11 workers hostage to deliver Bush giveaways to millionaires and billionaires."
An informed and respectful debate would consider issues raised in this New York Post column, "9/11 junk science," by Jeff Stier*, associate director of the American Council on Science and Health, who reported: "[There] is no credible evidence in the medical literature that exposure to Ground Zero dust can cause any chronic disease or condition. That is, the central claim in the suits has no real scientific basis." (See also Stier's follow-up column.)
News coverage ...
- New York Observer, "Pete King Pushes Back on Republicans' 9/11 Health Care Memo"
- Huffington Post, "Gillibrand Makes Emotional Plea For Zadroga Bill"
- New York Daily News, "Sen. Gillibrand pushing back against the GOP's 'pack of lies' about 9/11..."
UPDATE (9:15 a.m. Wednesday): Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) is being excoriated for raising legitimate questions about the legislation.
"He's the lead troublemaker," said John Feal, who lost half of his left foot on Sept. 17, 2001, at ground zero as he was working to clean up the site.
Feal, who would be eligible for money under the legislation, led a few dozen World Trade Center first responders to Enzi's Washington, D.C., office on Tuesday to urge the senator to rethink his opposition.
Mr. Feal's injury seems like the kind of workplace injury that could occur anywhere, not just because of the 9/11 terrorist attack, which could be compensated according to New York law.
* Since the article's publication in March, 2010, Jeff Stier has moved to the National Center for Public Policy Research.