NY Times - December 19, 2010by CARL HULSE
WASHINGTON - Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand said Saturday that she and other sponsors of a stalled 9/11 health bill had won new Republican support for the measure and intended to try again to pass it before the end of the 111th Congress.
Following the Senate's vote to repeal the ban on gays serving in the military, Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said Democrats intended to resurrect the health initiative in the coming days after falling three votes short of breaking a filibuster against it earlier this month.
"We have the votes we need," Ms. Gillibrand said. "We have indications from several Republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill."
The $7.4 billion measure is intended to provide medical care to workers and others who had become ill as a result of being exposed to toxic debris and fumes at the site of the World Trade Center attack in 2001.
Republicans have raised concerns about how to pay for the program, and Ms. Gillibrand said the bill's authors have identified ways to cover the costs through new federal fees that are acceptable to enough Republicans to advance the measure. It stalled on a party line vote of 57 to 42 when 60 votes were required.
She said the Senate could consider the measure after it concludes debate over a nuclear weapons treaty. But with Congress trying to adjourn before Christmas, time is running short, and it is unclear how many additional bills can reach the floor. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has indicated that he is open to allowing another vote on the health plan before Congress adjourns.
The bill, formally known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, 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.