Senate Passes 9/11 First Responders Health Care Bill

December 22, 2010 8:15 a.m.

Update 2:31 p.m.: By voice vote, the Senate passed the newly-trimmed 9/11 first responders bill. It now goes to the House for expedited passage.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has dropped his objections to the 9/11 first responders bill, allowing Dems to circumvent procedural roadblocks and pass it quickly this afternoon.

Dems rounded up the votes they needed to break Coburn’s filibuster earlier this week, and spent much of the morning and early afternoon negotiating with him to prevent him from delaying passage of the legislation by several days.

Coburn’s price: a reduction of the price tag from $6.2 billion to $4.2 billion.The legislation would provide first responders with five years of health care coverage and give them fresh access to a compensation fund for people who became ill because of exposure to harmful inhalants at ground zero.

The House is in session today and primed to pass that and other last-minute legislation, before gaveling the 111th Congress to a close.

Late update: New York Sens. Chuck Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D) responded with a statement:

“The Christmas Miracle we’ve been looking for has arrived. Over the last 24 hours, our Republican colleagues have negotiated in good-faith to forge a workable final package that will protect the health of the men and women who selflessly answered our nation’s call in her hour of greatest need. We are pleased to announce that we crafted an agreement that will allow this legislation to pass the Senate, and the House, this afternoon. We thank our Republican friends for coming together to fulfill America’s moral obligation to the Heroes of 9/11.

“This has been a long process, but we are now on the cusp of the victory these heroes deserve. We would not be here without the strong leadership of Majority Leader Reid, Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Nadler, Congressman King, Congressman Weiner, Congressman Crowley, Congressman McMahon, the entire New York Congressional delegation, and most of all, the many brave first responders and community survivors.”

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