House Passes Health Bill for 9/11 Responders

The House passed a health-care bill that will benefit first responders sickened at the World Trade Center site on 9/11.

The bill passed 268 to 160, with 13 Republicans on-board.  

The bill was defeated this summer as part of a different package that required a two-thirds majority. Today's vote only required 51 percent approval to pass.

President Barack Obama has said he would sign the bill, if it reaches his desk, but the fate of the bill remains uncertain. It now goes to the Senate, where there is a slim Democratic majority.

Republicans are concerned with how the long-term medical care would be funded. They say say the bill is another big-government entitlement program that would boost taxes and kill jobs. 

The expected cost of the program is $7.4 billion.

Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana says Republicans would've supported the bill, but disagreed with covering the cost by adding a payroll tax for certain overseas companies.

"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," Boustany says.

Republicans offered to make an amendment that would pay for the bill by delaying or eliminating many of the measures in the landmark health-care bill passed earlier this year. Local Congressman Anthony Weiner calls that move a non-starter. "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," he says.

Joesph Zadroga, the father of the late James Zadroga, whom the bill was named for, says he was overjoyed when the bill finally passed. "I literally had tears in my eyes," he says. "Hopefully after we get through the Senate that the first responders are going to get the health care and the compensation that they're due," Zadroga says.

James Zadroga, was an an NYPD officer on 9/11. He died of respiratory disease 5 years after working rescue and recovery at the World Trade Center site.