THE BLOG

9/11 Health Bill: Winners and Losers

12/23/2010 01:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The celebration over passage of the bill to support ailing first responders to the 9/11 terror attack isn't quite over. It's to take note of the winners and the losers:

WINNERS:

First of all, of course, the people who flocked to Ground Zero to lend a hand as rescue workers and clean-up crews. And about time.

New York City: It was a bad year for the city in Congress. We lost our biggest clout in the House when Rep. Charles Rangel had to step down from his powerful committee chairmanship. The election was crammed with out-of-state politicians taking hysterical potshots at the mosque issue. To top it all off, Senator John McCain lambasted the Senate Democrats for "fooling around... on New York City" with the 9/11 bill. But that final sweet moment made up for it all.

The responders from Arizona ... and California, and Texas and all the other states where people saw the horror of 9/11, threw some clothes in a suitcase and came here to help. Some of them are suffering now, too, and even though their representatives may have fought the bill that would help them, their day has come.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Passage of the 9/11 bill, and her passionate work on behalf of gay soliders in the Don't Ask Don't Tell debate, gave our new senator some serious cred.

Senator Chuck Schumer: Nobody needs to take note of New York's senior senator - he's impossible to avoid when there's a camera around. But over the last several weeks he's let Gillibrand take center stage, and good for him.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: When reporters spotted Reid coming out of the office of Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, the chief opponent of the 9/11 bill, they smelled a deal. And they were right - one of Reid's many last-minute coups that made the lame duck session the most productive ever.

The New York House delegation: While Gillibrand was just an ambitious young lawyer, local members of Congress - particularly Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler - were working on behalf of the people who were put at risk by the air at Ground Zero. This is their moment, too.

Juan Gonzalez: The Daily News columnist was the first journalist to expose the health dangers at Ground Zero. He did so despite efforts by city and federal officials to discredit his reporting.

LOSERS:

John McCain: See above. As if it wasn't embarrassing enough to see McCain fulminating on the Senate floor about how allowing gays to serve openly in the military would lead to more war casualties.

The Republicans: With a few exceptions, like Rep. Peter King, the Republicans in the House and Senate spurned the 9/11 bill as overly expensive and short on cost controls. We'd have listened harder if they weren't busy at the same time forcing President Obama to lard tons of new cash on our missile defense systems - much of it for programs that haven't even been designed yet - as the price for getting the New START Treaty ratified.

Mayor Bloomberg: Not so much a loss as a moment for the eating of words. Bloomberg was no fan of Gillibrand's and wanted to find someone he liked better for Hillary Clinton's seat.

Rudy Giuliani: In the days following the terror attack, America's former mayor echoed the famously bogus federal claim that the air at Ground Zero was safe. His administration also warned companies working at Ground Zero that any slowdown in the work could result in fines or termination. (A construction worker who asked Giuliani to give Ground Zero crews Christmas Day off was rebuffed.) And it was only very late in the game that Giuliani finally got behind the first responders legislation.