While the new START treaty, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and the tax package put together by President Obama and Congressional Republicans have been getting most of the attention, another piece of important legislation has been on the Senate's agenda.
And there's word today from Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-NY, that the bill providing $6.2 billion to help pay for 9/11 first responders' health care costs could make its way through the Senate this week, before lawmakers leave for the holidays.
"Supporters of the bill believe that the smaller price tag — the overall cost was cut to $6.2 billion from $7.4 billion — combined with a different method of paying for the legislation, will be enough to win yes votes from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, according to people familiar with the discussions. Three other Republicans are also considered possible supporters of the altered version of the bill."
"Since a Republican filibuster stalled the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act 11 days ago, several compromises have been reached, Gillibrand and Schumer told a news conference. The bill's cost has been cut from $7.4 billion to $6.2 billion over the 10 years — thanks to the recent settlement with ailing responders — and its funding sources altered.
" 'Now there's nothing standing in the way,' Gillibrand told Newsday."
New York City Police Detective James Zadroga, as the Officer Down Memorial Page says, "died (in 2006) of a respiratory disease he contracted during rescue and recovery operations at the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center." He was 34.
The Daily Show's Jon Stewart worked hard in recent weeks to focus attention on the hold-up of the legislation in the Senate. Last week, he had four of the first responders on to talk about it: