In July Republicans tried to block House passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. They voted the bill down-with 155 of 159 nays being Republicans. The bill was later passed in a different form to the Senate, where it was defeated today by a Republican-led filibuster.
The bill, named after a deceased NYPD detective who worked in Lower Manhattan's toxic atmosphere after 9/11, would provide free health care to those first responders and survivors exposed to toxic ash after the Twin Towers fell. Republicans have called the bill's $7.4 billion price tag too high.
Beyond the cost of the bill-a tenth of what the Iraq War has cost the country thus far-Republicans have also reiterated that no legislation will be considered in Congress until President Obama and Democrats cave on Bush-era tax cut extensions.
The Republicans' message to 9/11 responders and victims is clear: we will not help you until we get our way on tax cuts that will end up benefiting this country's richest citizens. You are lower on the totem pole of our concerns than rich Americans. Fifty-seven senators may have wanted to vote for cloture to bring the bill to debate, but we have resolutely mounted a Congressional offensive against your bill because there are still rich Americans out there fearful of the amount of taxes they will have to pay come April 15.
It is a giant middle finger to these responders and victims. What makes it even more insulting is the fact that Republicans have used 9/11 for their own political gain for the past ten years. They've repeatedly told Americans that they are the only party that can keep them safe from terrorists.
George W. Bush said in the lead-up to the 2006 midterm elections that the terrorists would win with a Democratic majority in Congress.
Rudy Giuliani said during his failed 2008 campaign for president that should a Democrat win the White House, America should brace itself for another 9/11.
John McCain said that he was worried that terrorists in Iraq would try to increase their attacks on Western interests in order to tip the election against him to allow a Democrat to take the White House.
If anything, the Republicans should be voting for the Zadroga bill to pay the first responders and victims for using 9/11 and terrorism for their own gain for the past ten years. These responders and victims were literally at Ground Zero, not using it as a campaign tool for their party's political gain, and it's too expensive to make sure they're taken care of health-wise? Republicans want to make sure rich Americans are taken care of before 9/11 responders and victims?
Despite all of the rhetoric, all of the video tributes, and the supposed patriotism of the Republican Party in this country, their true colors have certainly shown today. Only one word can sum up what the Senate Republicans did today: shameful.