On a voice vote, the Senate this afternoon passed a modified H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, after a compromise that reduced the costs of the legislation and capped attorneys' fees. The House is expected now to pass the bill and then adjourn.
The New York Daily News, which mounted an old-style newspaper campaign for the legislation, reported in "Senators approve James Zadroga 9/11 health bill after months of partisan bickering", that the bill had been reduced by $2 billion to $4.3 billion after negotiations among its chief Senate sponsors, New York Democrats Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Republican critics, Sens. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Excerpt:
Besides cutting the price from $6.2 billion, the new bill covers up to six years, instead of 10.
And rather than create a $3.2 billion health fund, it will be $1.5 billion.
The compensation portion is $2.8 billion, some of which will be paid out relatively soon, with the final payment in six years.
Other concessions negotiators had to make to Coburn and Enzi included capping all lawyers' fees at 10%, with no exceptions, and even stronger reporting requirements and Government Accountability Office reviews than were already in the bill.
Although people who took money from the recent 9/11 lawsuit were already accounted for in the Zadroga bill, Republicans insisted on stronger language ensuring they could not double-dip.
Their legal settlements will be subtracted from any Zadroga bill payments.
Those are major concessions from the supporters, many who've spent recent weeks excoriating anyone who criticized the legislation. It would be gracious for them to say to Sen. Enzi and others, "Yes. You had a point about giving the bill a deliberate review. Thank you."
- Mayor Bloomberg's office, "Statement of Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Senate Action on the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act"
- Charles Krauthammer commentary at Fox News. CNN.com, "Senate passes revised 9/11 first responders health benefits bill"