Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the region's Congressional delegation are making a last-minute push to pass a new version of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
The mayor was joined at City Hall on Monday by local politicians, police and firefighters. They urged the Senate to vote before the current session expires. The revised bill lowers the price tag, from $7.4 billion to $6.2 billion.
Local Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer said they have enough Republican support to approve the bill.
But it’s not clear how quickly they can get the bill to the floor. Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged a vote on it before Christmas -- but only after the Senate is done considering ratification of the proposed START Treaty with Russia.
If lengthy Senate debate on the two bills eats up much of the week, it could be difficult to get the House of Representatives to pass the bill in time. The House passed an earlier version of the Zadroga Bill and would have to hold a new vote on this version. If the House finishes its business earlier in the week while the Zadroga debate continues in the Senate, House members could head home for the holidays, rather than wait for the Zadroga outcome in the other chamber.
"We're at the one yard line," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg sids that despite the intense lobbying for the bill by 9/11 emergency responders, they aren’t the ones who would most benefit from it, because they receive adequate healthcare and disability pensions through the existing benefits systems.
“The issue here isn't so much the police officers and firefighters, as much as the construction workers and other volunteers,” Bloomberg said.”If we did not stand up and help the construction workers, what company down the road would let their workers go in and help, if it's going to bankrupt them.”
In addition to the groups Bloomberg mentioned, thousands of downtown residents, workers and students would be eligble for continued healthcare support and financial compensation.