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First Responders, yet last concerned

September 11, 2001 is a day that will live in the hearts and minds of Americans forever.  I will always remember where I was and how I felt when I heard about the attacks.  After the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Towers there were many firefighters, policeman, and other first responders who put their own lives on the line to rescue those who were trapped in the rubble.  Since then,  a lot of those responders have died or are dying now from cancers, respiratory ailments, and other lingering diseases from all the toxic fumes and dust around the site.

There is a bill before Congress, James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, that would help those first responders, that would give them some comfort and peace of mind in a trying time.  There is strong bi-partisan support for this bill and, even better, it would be paid for by a fee on foreign companies who get procurement contracts from the government (unlike the tax cuts for the wealthy that were just passed and are not paid for or offset at all).  But there are Congressman that are speaking out against it.  One of those who are speaking out against the bill is Senator Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK).  According to a post at Mediaite, Senator Coburn is blocking passage of the bill because…

This is a bill that’s been drawn up and forced through Congress at the end of the year on a basis to solve a problem that we didn’t have time to solve and we didn’t get done.
-Senator Tom Coburn on Fox News 12/21/2010

He also claimed that the bill hasn’t even been through a committee, which is interesting because on June 29, 2010 the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held discussions on “Examining the Continuing Needs of Workers and Communities Affected by 9/11”  Also of note about that Senate Committee, is that Senator Coburn is a member of that committee.

There should be no issue at all about wanting to help those who helped so many on that day.  I’ve heard about dozens of responders who are dying of inoperable cancers, living with diminished lung capacity, heart problems, back issues, and other health problems.  To say to the media that a bill to help these people is being rushed or hasn’t been to committee when it is clearly obvious that it has, shows to me that this is nothing more that political grandstandng of the lowest degree.  The Republicans have done nothing but stall anything that would give the Democrats or the President of the United States any positive momentum, even if it means hurting people or holding back aid they may need.

A couple of weeks ago Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) stated that,  “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President”.  That he and the Republicans would do anything and everything in their power to obstruct and obfuscate in order to deny the Democrats or President Obama any political victory, however small.

On January 3, 2011, the 112th Congress will open with a large Republican majority in the House and a near even standoff in the Senate.  If discussions on this bill only hint at what the next Congress will be like, what are the chances of any legislation that will help the United States have of passing?


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