Bloomberg Hits the Hill for 9/11 Health Funds

Mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbied a handful of Republican senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday in support of the 9/11 health care bill. Supporters say it's now-or-never to pass the bill, because the Democrats will lose a substantial number of seats in both houses of Congress come January.

Bloomberg and the local Congressional delegation have for years tried to convince a handful of Republicans to break with their party and support the bill.

Bloomberg plans to met with Maine Senator Susan Collins, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and Illinois Senator-elect Ron Kirk.

The bill would provide around $7 billion in screening, treatment and research to help tens of thousands of emergency responders, cleanup workers, residents and others who were exposed to World Trade Center dust in the weeks and months after the attacks.

Republicans have argued that the bill is too expensive and covers too many people who either aren't sick or who have other ways of getting health coverage.

Tuesday is also the deadline for plaintiffs to join a proposed $712 million settlement. They are suing the city over post 9/11 exposures and could take home between $2,000 and $2 million apiece, depending on their symptoms.

Under the agreement, people who accept the settlement still would be eligble for potential compensation and health coverage in the future, if the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill does pass the Senate and is signed into law by the president.