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9/11 Heroes steel for bill’s last gasp

Providing funding for dying first responders and families of 9/11victims seems like a no-brainer vote to New Yorkers.

Providing funding for dying first responders and families of 9/11 victims seems like a no-brainer vote to New Yorkers.



But today, the Senate will vote on what most consider a last gasp for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, a $7.4 billion bill that would provide treatment and research for those sickened at Ground Zero. “This will be a moment of truth,” Sen. Charles Schumer told Metro in a statement.



Yesterday, 75 members of the FealGood Foundation, a Long Island group of first responders, met with more than 30 senate offices to wrangle Republican support. These heroes, said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, “deserve an up-or-down vote.”



Only one more vote is needed to break a Republican filibuster against the act. Only one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), has pledged his support. With 60 votes, the bill would move to debate and a final yes-or-no vote.



James Ryder, a Commack, L.I., former police officer, will sit in the gallery today as senators vote. Ryder worked at Ground Zero and returned items like a man’s wedding ring to his wife.



Ryder carries with him the memory of his friend, a Jamaica, Queens, sergeant diagnosed with three different forms of cancer. He died in 2008.



No more, Ryder said, should responders that are giving their lives — slowly, through cancers gripping bodies and deteriorating lungs — be blocked from support by lawmakers:?“They’ve got to act as patriots, and they’ve got to do what’s right.”



Who would vote against this bill?



Metro contacted all 41 Republican senators who have not signaled support for the bill, asking their positions.



Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, who’s reportedly leading the charge against the Zadroga bill, told Metro he first wants to know how $475 million already allocated to health providers of 9/11 victims has been spent. New York City already settled a $625 million lawsuit supporting the first responders, he added.



“It is reasonable to ask how this new proposal for as much as $10 billion would be used in light of the recent court settlement,” he said. –Carly Baldwin/Metro

 
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