Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent an email to supporters this afternoon criticizing the nays in the House who voted against the 9/11 health care bill last night.
The subject line was “Charade.”
“It is simply outrageous that anyone – Democrat or Republican – would prevent these American heroes from receiving the health care they deserve,” wrote Gillibrand, who has been publicly cheered as the bill’s champion in the Senate. “I am hopeful that as members of Congress return home in August they will hear from all of you – hear from your families, friends and neighbors – that this kind of charade is unacceptable.”
Gillibrand didn’t wade into the partisan bickering over the bill, criticizing the nays in both parties. But Republicans have accused Democrats of bringing the bill under suspension rules–which requires a 2/3 majority–precisely so it wouldn’t pass, and they could use it in this way.
“I think what they wanted was a campaign talking point,” Republican Congressman Pete King told me this morning, in response to a question about why Democrats chose this parliamentary route. “My concern is that if they’re afraid to bring it up now, in July, how they’re going to be able to bring it up in September, six weeks before the election.”
Democrats–most notably Anthony Weiner–have, rather vehemently, denied that charge.
The full text of the Senator’s email:
Last night, the House of Representatives voted 255 to 159 in favor of legislation to give September 11th survivors and first responders the health care they deserve. However, the bill failed to get the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. It is simply outrageous that anyone – Democrat or Republican – would prevent these American heroes from receiving the health care they deserve.
While we are all too aware of the damage that was done on September 11th, 2001, what is less well known is the long-lasting harm that has been done to the health and well-being of the thousands of first responders who were on the scene that day as well as all the men, women, and children who were exposed to the toxic debris that was spread all throughout Lower Manhattan after the towers fell.
We have an undeniable moral obligation to provide them the help and treatment they deserve.
Working closely with the people that are suffering and the doctors that are providing care, I authored legislation in the Senate to provide permanent health care services to these American heroes.
As we approach 9 years since the attack, nearly 20,000 responders and innocent residents of New York have fallen ill due to the harmful toxins released at Ground Zero – some have even died because of these illnesses. New York firefighters, EMTs, police, construction workers, clean-up workers, and innocent men, women, and children who lived and worked in the area are suffering.
I am hopeful that as members of Congress return home in August they will hear from all of you – hear from your families, friends and neighbors – that this kind of charade is unacceptable.
And when Congress returns in the fall, we can pass this legislation and fulfill our moral obligation to the heroes and survivors of September 11th.