Passage of the 9/11 Health Bill is coming down to the wire now that the Senate is closing in on approving the START Treaty.
With the two-thirds required to pass the nuclear arms pact with Russia now assured, the Senate must hold a 30-hour window to allow debate on the treaty. Once those 30 hours are up, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can file a motion to reconsider on the Zadroga Bill, which would create another 30-hour window to debate that measure. Once those 30 hours are up, Democrats must hold a cloture vote, which comes with another 30-hour period of debate.
Republicans could vote to yield their time on any of those 30-hour time frames. If they want to gum up the works, however, Republicans could insist that each one remains open. If that is the case, then the Zadroga Bill will not come up for debate until close to Christmas Day, by which point supporters say that the chance of passage gets much more difficult. Even supportive senators may have left for the holiday, as could members of Congress. The House remains in session, but is mostly waiting on bills to come back from the Senate.
Supporters say that they have the votes required to block a filibuster, but Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has threatened to block the bill, which backers fear could mean trying to run out the clock on the measure.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was over 30 minutes late to a news conference this afternoon, and said he was delayed because he was reaching out to wavering members of the Senate.
“This is a nationwide problem,” Bloomberg said. “I saw somebody said, ‘To say this is a New York problem is to say Pearl Harbor was a Hawaiian problem.’ It’s ridiculous. This was an attack on America. And when we get attacked we all pull together and we all shoulder our share of the responsibility.”
He added, “I would argue that it would be an enormous political disadvantage if in the end we don’t pass this bill and people are going to say, ‘Wait a second, I haven’t thought about in that way but you just walked away from the people who we asked to go in? Who is going to come in and save me the next time? Who is going to do it?’ We asked people to put their lives on the line…and then to not give them the care that they need would really be a shame.”
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs thanked Jon Stewart for devoting an entire show to the matter and Fox News host Shephard Smith took aim at Coburn for his threats to derail the measure.