Pete King Finds a Dem to Push 9/11 BillBy Michael McAuliff
August 9, 2010
Congress is not fond of doing things in a simple, straightforward fashion, with the failed attempt to pass the 9/11 health bill on a two-thirds suspension vote being a prime example.
The problem was Democrats feared poison pill motions and amendments from the GOP, and couldn’t get promises that there would be none, so they pushed ahead with the un-amendable suspension vote.
All that did was give Dems a talking point, and leave simmering anger among parts of the New York delegation that wanted a simple, regular vote.
The fallout seems to have made it tougher for downstate’s lone Republican, Rep. Pete King, to work with his colleagues, so he has found a prominent member of the DNC, Robert Zimmerman, to make the call for a simple vote that we know at least some of those colleagues wanted.
In a statement out this morning they call for Democrats to bring the bill back as soon as possible, and for Republicans to refrain from attempting politically motivated, toxic add-ons. Even if the GOP makes no promises, they want to bill to move.
Here is their statement:
No New Yorker who was alive that day will ever forget the horror of the terrorist attacks > of September 11, 2001 or the extraordinary heroism of the more than 400 courageous police officers and firefighters who were killed attempting to rescue the innocent victims trapped high above in the flaming towers.
Nor should we ever forget the heroism of the police officers, firefighters and construction workers who labored tirelessly in the poisoned pit of Ground Zero in the days, weeks and months after 9/11 attempting to recover the remains of victims.
Today thousands of these brave men and women have their lungs filled with pulverized glass and their bloodstreams flowing with deadly toxins. Many have already died. Congress has an absolute moral obligation to provide assistance and sustained medical care to these brave people.
After years of discussion and negotiations, Congress was finally ready to vote during the week of July 26th on legislation (H.R. 847) to provide the needed treatment for the 9/11 first responders. There would be considerably more votes for the bill than the simple majority (218) required to pass important legislation.
At the last moment however, the House Democratic Leadership changed the rules to require a 2/3’s majority rather than a simple majority. This was done to protect Democratic members from having to vote on a possible Republican amendment or motion to change the bill by preventing illegal immigrants from taking part in the 9/11 program. Thus, when H.R. 847 came to a vote in the evening of July 29th, it did not pass even though it received a strong majority of 255 votes!
-We call upon the House Democratic Leadership to bring this bill quickly back to the House floor—this time allowing it to pass under the standard rule of a simple majority.
-We call upon the House Republican Leadership to agree not to offer an amendment or a motion to recommit related to illegal immigration or any other “hot button” issue.
-If House Republicans do not make this agreement, however, we believe the Democratic Leadership has the moral obligation to allow this legislation to pass by a simple majority vote. Police officers, firefighters and construction workers should not be allowed to die because elected representatives are reluctant to cast a possibly difficult vote. It would be unconscionable not to pass lifesaving legislation when a clear majority of House members support it.
The New York Times, Newsday, Mayor Bloomberg, union leaders and 9/11 victims organizations are all calling for a simple majority vote. It is the right thing to do.
Congressman Pete King Ranking Member, Homeland Security Committee
Robert Zimmerman New York State Democratic National Committeeman