After a filibuster and threats of obstruction by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the Senate unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday that would provide health care for first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attack. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer reached a deal with Republican senators to support the bill earlier in the afternoon. (UPDATE: The House has also passed the legislation.)
Gillibrand and Schumer, the bill’s chief sponsors, lobbied hard for the legislation to be introduced again in the lame-duck session, when they could still ensure House support. But on Tuesday, they hit a snag when Coburn vowed to block the bill, saying he wanted it to be funded through spending cuts.
Coburn also claimed the bill had been fast-tracked and skipped committee. But in fact the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on the bill in June — Coburn, a committee member, missed it.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) also said he would oppose the bill so the Senate could hold hearings on it in the future.
But just before leaving town for Christmas, senators reached a deal to ensure Republican support for the bill. It will now go for a vote by unanimous consent. The House remained in Washington to act on the bill. More…