Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand accused Republicans of playing “political games” after a GOP senator Wednesday blocked her effort to permanently fund the 9/11 victim compensation.
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) attempted to pass the legislation by voice vote but was blocked by GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who cited costs and cited concerns about its effect on the budget.
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“Enough of the political games,” Gillibrand said. Under Senate rules, it takes only one senator to block a voice vote. “Our 9/11 first responders and the entire nation are watching to see if this body actually cares. Do we care about the men and women who answered the call of duty?”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still expected to bring the bill up for a vote on the floor.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also blasted the bill’s blockage.
“I would say to my friend from Kentucky, throughout the history of American, when our young men and women and older men and women volunteered in the armed services and risked their lives for our freedom, we came back and gave them health care,” he said. “Why are these people any different?”
Gillibrand’s bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), would guarantee that first responders who faced health problems after the attacks, as well as their survivors, would receive their full benefit from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The bill comes amid warnings from the fund’s special master that benefits could be reduced significantly based on insufficient funds.
The House passed its version of the bill last week in a 402-12 vote.
Calls for the bill’s passage comes amid an advocacy campaign not only from New York lawmakers but also from comedian Jon Stewart, who came to the capitol recently to lobby on behalf of the first responders.