The 9/11 Responders Health Bill Failure

Thursday, the Senate Republicans got blamed for not passing the Zadroga Bill, a $7.4-billion piece of legislation to aid those who have respiratory and other serious health problems as a result of working at Ground Zero in the post-9/11 World Trade Center rubble doing tireless rescue and recovery efforts.  But the Democrats in Congress can also shoulder a good part of the blame for how they managed their time this year and earlier.

Last July, before it was commonly expected that the Republicans would have sweeping victories in the November elections -- elections subsequently characterized by Obama as a "shellacking" -- the Democrats decided to introduce this Zadroga 9/11 bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.  But the Democrats chose a method too clever by half: namely using a procedural method that required a two-thirds majority vote.

The vote total in the House was 255-159, with twelve Republicans voting for it -- and that meant the bill was defeated, even though it was well over fifty percent.  The "cleverness" of the Democrats in not allowing the Republicans to add, subtract, or debate both amendments and the body of the bill resulted in this fiasco.  The Democrats apparently thought that Nancy Pelosi's famous line, that "we have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it," was the new standard in the U.S. Congress.  Others thought not.

The defeat of the Zadroga bill, complete with a House floor rant by "Mad Anthony" Weiner, was reported in the Gothamist:

Yesterday, the House's 255-159 vote (243 Democrats and 12 Republicans supported the measure; 155 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted nay) fell short of the majority needed to pass the long-debated James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2009. Republicans called it a "slush fund" and an "entitlement program." Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) slammed the partisanship in this rousing (and LOUD) speech. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) claimed the Democrats were taking "cover" by asking for the high majority. The NY Times explains, "Democrats used rules requiring a wider majority for approval to prevent Republicans from offering amendments on the floor that would embarrass Democrats in an election year"-amendments like denying illegal immigrants sickened during 9/11 benefits-"Republican opponents of the legislation expressed concern over the $7.4 billion cost of the program. But Democrats accused Republicans of being callous and vowed to bring the bill back for another vote in the fall."

This is the same Anthony Weiner who just said in a December Fox News interview with Megyn Kelly that when people die, their estate should be taxed again -- i.e., half-confiscated by the federal government.  Specifically, he said on the air that "I don't care [about the deceased].  They'll be dead."  You can see the video of this rant by the "compassionate liberal" at Town Hall (YouTube pulled the video).  Apparently, Weiner has compassion for people until they die -- i.e., can't vote.  Then he wants to pick their pockets.  Maybe he'll introduce a bill to entitle the government to extract their gold teeth as well.  On second thought, one shouldn't give him any ideas.

So what did the Democrats do to regroup?  They reluctantly took the Republicans' advice and got the bill passed by a simple majority vote in the end of September with 268-160 for-against totals.  But after the August recess, the Democrats failed to work on the pending expiration of the Bush Tax Rates (not tax cuts) and the little matter of the annual budget of the United States of America -- which was supposed to be done by October.  So the Zadroga bill -- and many other matters -- somehow didn't have enough priority to be taken up by the Senate before the pre-election recess.

When the Congress returned after the November 2 Democrat "shellacking," Harry Reid had a passel of other bills to consider as a Lame Duck Congress Last Hurrah: Cap and Trade; Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell; the DREAM Amnesty/Immigration Act; and even a bill to legalize internet poker. Oh, yes -- and the pending Bush tax rate expiration increases, the U.S. budget -- and the Zadroga bill to aid 9/11 first responders.  That was/is quite a lot for the Senate handle, especially if Harry Reid's first priorities in the Senate are amnesty/immigration and online video poker.  I guess he wanted people in Nevada to save gas -- and be green -- by not having to drive to a casino to gamble.

The Zadroga bill was defeated Thursday in the Senate. The New York Post gave their account, stating that there is little chance of the bill passing now.  Although the article didn't speculate on what might happen in the new January session of Congress, one can't rule out the Republican majority passing a slimmed down version of this bill.  In reality, I can't predict what will happen in the new Congress, but I suspect with one of the bill's sponsors being Nassau County, NY Republican Congressman Peter King, it has a decent chance of becoming law.

The July grandstanding by the Democrats, especially Rep. Weiner, made them feel righteous. But it proved only that they can't manage a congressional schedule of important bills -- i.e., they don't know how to govern.  They know only how to McGovern.