Senate vows to Get Necessary Zadroga Bill Votes to Pass Legislation Despite Roadblocks

NY Daily News - December 22, 2010

by Michael Mcauliff

WASHINGTON - Senate leaders think they have enough support to break a GOP filibuster of the Zadroga 9/11 health bill - and vowed to start voting Wendesday.

House members will hang around the Capitol at least through the evenign Wednesday to quickly sign off on any Senate-backed plan.

"This is important to our country," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said as he implored his colleagues to hold off on a holiday vacation for another day.

Roadblocks remain.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has vowed to muck up the works, potentially delaying passage until after the House quits for the year - possibly dooming the $6.2 billion measure.

Some 9/11 advocates hammered Coburn all day.

"I would plead with my friend from Oklahoma," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, "please don't stop this bill. We all know what it is and what it stands for.

"We all know if it doesn't happen now, it is very unlikely to ever happen again."

If the measure isn't approved in the next two weeks, it will have to start again from square one in the GOP-controlled House next year.

Former 9/11 construction worker John Feal found it hard to believe Coburn, an obstetrician, is paying attention to his training as a doctor.

"I'm not the smartest guy in this room, but a doctor who's against helping people that are sick - figure that out," said Feal.

Coburn even took a beating from Fox News Channel, the media outlet favored by conservatives, where Rudy Giuliani called for passage of the bill.

Fox host Shepard Smith held up Coburn's picture in shame. "He is the man who is vowing to slow this down or block it," Smith said.

Even first responders from the 1995 federal building bombing in Oklahoma City, urged the senator to vote for the measure, calling the lack of a vote "a national disgrace."

Senate insiders were hoping they could get the Zadroga proposal passed by Wednesday evening, once they ratify the START nuclear treaty, which appears headed toward approval.

"The finish line is finally in view," Schumer said late Tuesday.