WASHINGTON, D.C. — A New York senator says new Republican support for the 9/11 health bill may enable its passage before the current congressional session ends.Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said her fellow Democrats intend to resurrect the $7.4 billion health initiative for first-responders and survivors in coming days, The New York Times and other media reported Saturday. The measure fell three votes short of breaking a filibuster against it Dec. 9.
“We have the votes we need,” Gillibrand said at a Capitol Hill news conference following passage of the "don't ask don't tell" repeal. “We have indications from several Republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill.”
She did not name the Republicans.
"They would like to vote for a stand-alone bill," she said. "There is general agreement on a new pay-for that we're going to offer, so the hope is to get to the bill as soon as the START bill is completed."
The Times said new federal fees acceptable to Republicans would fund the measure that would provide medical care to workers and others sickened by being exposed to toxic debris and fumes at the site of the World Trade Center attack in 2001.
One Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, has agreed to back the bill, but he voted against bringing it up until the Bush-era tax cuts were extended. Those were passed Friday.
It calls for providing $3.2 billion over the next eight years to monitor and treat injuries stemming from exposure to toxic dust and debris at ground zero. New York City would pay 10 percent of those health costs. The bill would also set aside $4.2 billion to reopen the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide payments for job and economic losses.
More than 30,000 workers and survivors of the 2001 attacks responded to the attack site while it burned for several weeks. Last month, 10,043 settled lawsuits claiming illness and injury from the alleged failure of the city and 140 contractors to adequately protect them. They will participate in a fund of about $625 million created by the U.S. government.
Thousands more already have chronic illnesses or are at risk of developing them over the next 10 years, Bloomberg has said, citing health officials. The money provided by the bill would have been deposited into a fund through 2020.