After days of political trickery by both Republicans and Democrats, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) got mad as hell and just couldn’t take it anymore.
And so began the shouting.
On Thursday night, the House voted down the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which would have provided over $7 billion in health benefits to 9/11 first responders, among other actions.
Democrats overwhelmingly supported the act, but Republicans did not. In a vote on the 29th, it failed to attain a two-thirds majority by a mere 35 votes, clocking in with 255 in favor and 159 opposed. Just 12 Republicans voted for the act.
In the days prior, House GOP leadership tried to attach an amendment that would block illegal immigrants from receiving any of the aid, hoping to create a Catch-22 for Democrats who’d be forced to anger their Hispanic constituencies by voting in favor.
Democrats instead responded in-kind, by invoking a suspension of the rules and disallowing any amendments to the bill; their goal being a straight up-or-down vote as the act was written, essentially turning Republicans’ tack against them.
Unfortunately, the suspension of the rules also mandated that the House clear a two-thirds majority: something Democrats do not possess, but should have been able to carry on this bill in particular.
With little dissent, Republicans proceeded to level a unified opposition, effectively denying much-needed medical care for 9/11 heroes.
“It’s Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans, rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes!” Weiner belted, verbally assaulting his “cowardly” colleagues for standing on “procedure” over “doing the right thing.”
“It is a shame! A shame!” he cried. “If you believe this is a bad idea, to provide health care, then vote no! But don’t give me the cowardly view that, oh, if it was a different procedure …”
Voices began to echo from Republican aisles.
“The gentleman will observe regular order and sit down!” Weiner shouted. “I will not! The gentleman will sit! The gentleman is correct in sitting!”
Appearing on Fox News the next day, Representatives Weiner and New York Republican Peter King were eager to point fingers, but Weiner’s rage still managed to supersede his critic.
“With a simple majority, it goes through!” the network’s host said.
“But they didn’t have the guts to vote on it,” King replied.
“Yes, yes, my influential friend Peter,” Weiner said. “Eighteen switches and it would have passed. Did you do that? Oh no. Take a look at his floor speech last night. [...] It’s one minute or thirty seconds talking about how he likes the bill and a minute or a minute and a half like he did today, railing about the procedure.”
Cutting off his colleagues’ attempted interruption, Weiner jeered: “Stop whining and get the bill passed!”
“I got 94 percent of my colleagues,” the New York Democrat concluded. “What percent did you get? How’s that cracker-jack Peter King whip organization working out?”
According to a bill summary, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2009 would provide:
(1) medical monitoring and treatment benefits to eligible emergency responders and recovery and cleanup workers who responded to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; and
(2) initial health evaluation, monitoring, and treatment benefits to residents and other building occupants and area workers who were directly impacted and adversely affected by such attacks. Requires the WTC program administrator to:
(1) implement a quality assurance program;
(2) establish the WTC Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee;
(3) establish the WTC Responders Steering Committee and the WTC Community Program Steering Committee;
(4) provide for education and outreach on services under the WTC program;
(5) provide for the uniform collection of data related to WTC-related health conditions;
(6) conduct research on physical and mental health conditions that may be related to the September 11 terrorist attacks; and
(7) extend and expand arrangements with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide for the World Trade Center Health Registry. Authorizes the administrator to make grants to the Department to address mental health needs relating to the terrorist attacks.Amends the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act to:
(1) make individuals eligible for compensation under the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 for harm as a result of debris removal; and
(2) extend the deadline for making a claim for compensation.
This video is from the U.S. House of Representatives, broadcast by C-Span on July 29, 2010.
This video is from Fox News, broadcast July 30, 2010, as snipped by Talking Points Memo.