Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will schedule a vote on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill before Christmas. Two other major items have been scheduled for Saturday -- the immigration bill called the "DREAM" Act and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- making the Zadroga Bill one of the main items for lawmakers to cover next week, along with the START arms treaty.
Maine Republican Susan Collins released a statement on Thursday saying she would support the $7.4 billion, if she's convinced it can be paid for. She opposes the main proposal for funding the bill, a tax on overseas companies that locate in havens to avoid paying taxes.
"I support the 9/11 health bill on the merits, and I have talked with Senator Gillibrand about the need for legitimate ways of offsetting its cost," Collins said. "If the Majority Leader were to bring the bill to the floor with appropriate offsets, I would support the legislation."
Collins didn't address any of alternative ways New York Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Charles Schumber have proposed for raising money.
Thursday, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden confirmed he will be out next week through Christmas to prepare for and undergo surgery for prostate cancer -- making it even harder for Democrats to reach the 60 votes they need to prevent a filibuster.
The Zadroga bill would provide long-term funding to continue medical monitoring and treatment programs for people with illnesses related to the World Trade Center attacks. It would also open a victims compensation fund for the sick and survivors of those who have died.
Democrats need 60 votes to open and close debate.