Congress OKs aid for 9/11 illnesses
After a last-minute compromise, Congress passed legislation Wednesday to provide up to $4.2 billion in new aid to survivors of the September 2001 terrorism attack on the World Trade Center and responders who became ill working in its ruins.
The House passed the bill on a 206-60 vote Wednesday about two hours after the Senate cleared it on a voice vote as lawmakers raced to wrap up their work before Christmas. President Barack Obama has said he is eager to sign the measure, though some supporters of the bill have criticized him for not getting more involved in the fight.
The package provides $1.5 billion to monitor the health of rescue and cleanup workers and treat illnesses related to ground zero. It also reopens a victims’ compensation fund with $2.7 billion.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said the measure was long overdue. “It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the right time to do it,” she said.
The bill was a product of a compromise involving Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Enzi of Wyoming. New York members of Congress had sought $2 billion more for the overall bill. They accepted the smaller amount in exchange for GOP critics’ dropping their opposition.