The 9/11 First Responders Health Bill could come to the floor of the Senate as early as this afternoon, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
Sources say that a deal has been struck with Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who was leading the opposition to the bill. The new agreement will lower the price tag of the bill to $4.3 billion from over $6 billion, and will cap attorney’s fees at ten percent. The agreement will also create a window of five years for victims to make a claim that they have taken ill, and a window of six years for a payout.
The lower price tag will not, sources say, come out of the monitoring of 9/11 responders’ health, but instead will come from the lower attorneys’ fees and the smaller window in which the ill can make claims. Those whose claims are denied can hire attorneys to appeal–a major sticking point for conservatives who say that the bill is a giveaway to trial attorneys.
If no late-breaking objections are raised, the bill would reach the floor this afternoon as a unanimous consent agreement, and would not be subject to filibuster.