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The 9/11 compensation fund, its expansion, the politics

The House on Wednesday passed H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, by a vote of 268-160. The emotional/political force achieved by invoking the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, overwhelmed any substantive critique of the legislation.

For example, the bill included a $7.4 billion tax increase on foreign companies with U.S. operations included in the legislation, criticized by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA): "This tax increase will make it less attractive for many of these 'in-sourcing' companies to initiate or expand operations here in the United States. Potentially encouraging them to ship these jobs overseas."

The politics of medical liability reform made an appearance. A motion to recommit introduced by Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) included a package of medical liability reforms that House Republicans contend should have been in the new health care law. That motion failed 185-244. And there was talk of paying for the bill by eliminating or delaying other parts of the expanded federal health care programs. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) raged in response:

You want to re-litigate the health-care bill? OK, we're going to get to do that the first Tuesday of November. People are going to be talking was the health-care bill a good bill or a bad bill? Let's do that later. Let's do the politics later. Let's do the right thing now.

There was a lot of this making of implicit threats: We must put aside politics on this bill, and if you don't, we'll denounce you for being against the victims of 9/11.

Kate Pickert at Time magazine's Swampland blog accurately describes the politicking, "The 9/11 Bill and Political Maneuvering."

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) gave a floor speech detailing the objections to the bill. We'll link to it when the Congressional Record is published online. (Update; 2:51 p.m.: Here it is.)

UPDATE (10:30 a.m.): Also, President Obama issued a statement praising House passage. We do not find a news release from the American Association for Justice, the only non-labor union to lobby on the bill. (List of those who lobbied the bill.)

Earlier post here.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.