NY Daily News - December 18, 2010by Michael Mcauliff
WASHINGTON - Arizona Sen. John McCain did it again, insulting 9/11's heroes and belittling the push to pass a health bill as "fooling around."
The Arizona Republican, dubbed McWeasel for blowing off an ailing Ground Zero construction worker two weeks ago, whipped up new fury last night by suggesting Senate Democrats have wasted time trying to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, among other bills.
At the time, McCain was refusing to accept a time limit for debating the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
"To have a time agreement after all of the fooling around that we've been doing on [the] Dream Act, on New York City ... we will not have a time agreement from this side," he insisted angrily.
That did not go over well with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who rushed to the Senate floor, praising the former POW's Vietnam service but hammering his ill-thought comments.
"This is not fooling around," Schumer said. "These men and the thousands of others who rushed to the towers on 9/11 and in the days thereafter were not fooling around - they, just like my colleague from Arizona, were risking their lives.
"To call ... helping them fooling around is saddening and frustrating," Schumer charged, taking offense at the notion that his and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's attempts to pass the Zadroga bill are some kind of joke.
"We are not fooling around," he said. "We are fulfilling our duty as patriotic Americans to all of those from New York and elsewhere who rushed to the towers," he said, noting Arizonans are among the responders.
McCain was not amused.
"I said 'fooling around with the bill concerning New York,'" he shot back. "The majority leader keeps bringing up that and other pieces of legislation for votes which don't get enough votes.
"For the senator from New York to somehow interpret that as my [being] critical of the bill itself of course is an incredible stretch of the imagination, and frankly I resent it," McCain ripped angrily.
Democrats brought the 9/11 bill up once before. The GOP slapped it down unanimously, saying it wanted to extend tax cuts before doing anything else. With those cuts passed, Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to bring the Zadroga bill back.
One GOP senator has pledged support for the bill, and several others, including Maine's Susan Collins, have said they will back the bill - with conditions.
Still, there is little time left, and major changes could kill the bill as easily as a "no" vote.