Kudos to Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) for his outburst at Republicans who actually voted against the 9/11 Zadroga Health and Compensation Act. The bill's purpose was to provide up to $7.4 billion to care for 9/11 first responders, many of whom have respiratory problems. The Republicans played politics with the popular bill to the detriment of those who risked their health at ground zero:
Ahead of elections, parties tend to slowly abandon actual achievement in favor of forcing the opposition to take a “poison pill” – forcing a vote that might prove to be embarrassing, and thus good campaign fodder.
In this case, Republicans decided earlier this week to introduce an amendment to the Zadroga Act that would prevent any first responders who were illegal immigrants from collecting the health benefits.
There had been no serious discussion previously about whether any 9/11 responders were illegal immigrants. But getting Democrats to vote in favor of benefits for any potential illegal immigrants would anger voters in conservative districts. Voting against it would anger Hispanics – a key Democratic constituency.
Republicans wanted to set up a lose-lose situation for Democrats.
The Democrats employed a procedure to prevent any new amendments; as a result, the bill needed a two-thirds majority. Only 12 Republicans voted for it, and the bill fell short by 35 votes. Weiner was justly apoplectic in responding to Republicans who defeated the bill as a matter of "procedure." He stated, "It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes." Watch: