In the last few days before the Republican majority in Congress takes over, the Zadroga bill was finally passed. This bill - soon to be law - provides extended health benefits to 9/11 first responders who are suffering and dying from aftereffects of their heroic efforts. The bill has been in the works a long time. Its initial sponsor was former New York senator and current U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Kirsten Gillibrand, Clinton's successor, has been pushing it since she got to the Senate.
Most recently, the bill was passed in the House with the knowledge that the only chance was doing it before the Republicans had a majority. There was a majority in the Senate, too, but not a large enough one to stop a Republican filibuster. Yes, the Republicans - who use 9/11 to their political ends all the time - were not willing to fund health care for 9/11 first responders. They claimed their opposition was because it would increase the deficit. I wonder how many people are stupid enough to believe that, coming from a party that was at the same time pushing for huge tax breaks for the very wealthy, an immense increase to the deficit.
Here's one of the Republican objectors to the Zadroga bill (and supporters of tax cuts for the very wealthy and the elimination of the estate tax on estates of over 5 million dollars), Tom Coburn: "Every American recognizes the heroism of the 9/11 first responders, but it is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generations of opportunity.” Republican policies will definitely help one group (the very rich) while robbing future generations of opportunity. The GOP is truly shameless and their actions truly shameful.
Also covered in shame are the major news networks - both regular and cable - which pretty much ignored this story. It took Jon Stewart devoting his whole last show to it to prod them into covering it. Pretty awful when only Comedy Central takes an issue like this seriously.
Well, kudos to three stalwart New Yorkers - Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jon Stewart - for insisting that we fulfill our obligation to those who were injured saving our people on that terrible day. You honor, too, the memory of those who died.