At a press conference this morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted House Democrats for not bringing the 9/11 health care and compensation act up for a traditional, simple-majority vote.
“It’s an outrage,” he said, before The Observer could finish the question. “They should bring it up. A majority of people would vote for this bill and it would pass.”
Democrats have said they’ll bring the $7.4 billion bill to the floor today under the House’s suspension calendar, which could keep unsupportive Republicans from poisoning the bill with unpopular amendments–like, say, ones on abortion and immigration. But it also requires a 2/3 vote for passage.
“They will not get that and they know that. So this is a way to avoid having to make a tough decision,” Bloomberg said. “And I know it’s a tough vote for some people. Hey, I get tough votes every day. I get tough votes with you [the press] every day where you want to know where I stand. I don’t have a lot of sympathy. They should bring this and vote up or down on any amendments. And vote up or down on the bill. And go on the record, and that incidentally, is what the leadership should force.”
According to the Daily News, Bloomberg’s office has been working the phones since finding out about the strategy–including calls to Congressmen Michael McMahon and Joseph Crowley–in an attempt to make sure the delegation positions the bill to pass. Bloomberg said he had spoken personally to one unnamed member (which would appear to be Congressman Crowley, based on the congressman’s comments in a subsequent Daily News report, though the mayor declined to say who it was). [Updated]
“The conversation I had with this person was, I–even more strongly than I just did–emphasized just how important this was to the city and how outrageous I think it is to not stand up and say where you are,” Bloomberg said. “He said to me, ‘Well, what about people who don’t vote for it.’ I’ll tell you what I think about people who don’t vote for it, but I’ll also tell you about the people that don’t have the courage to vote yes or no.”
Congressman Crowley responded through a spokesperson:
“What’s outrageous is the thought that Republicans would vote against providing health services to 9/11 heroes in favor of foreign companies who are avoiding paying taxes. What’s outrageous is that my colleagues are criticizing the vote before it even happens, instead of rallying support for a bill that should pass with flying colors. Suspension votes are as non-political and non-controversial as votes come. It’s up or down, yes or no. When it comes to this bill, the decision couldn’t be clearer.”
[Note: An earlier version of this post stated the cost of the bill to be $10.5 billion dollars, which referred to a previous estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.]