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Christmas Miracle In The Offing

ElectionsSeptember 11, 2001 AttacksRepublican PartyKirsten GillibrandWPIX

There may be a Christmas miracle in the offing for 9/11 First Responders who volunteered at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, only to develop life-threatening illnesses.Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Sunday that there's now enough bi-partisan support to pass The Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Act into law.

It can't happen soon enough for Retired Police Officer James Ryder, who says he has a "heart ailment" that has stumped doctors. He says his heart rate is 120 beats per minute, "and they (his doctors) don't know why, and they can't tell me why""...I have the gerd, I have the sleep apnea, and of course, I have the Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, (Disorder) Ryder added.

The legislation calls for a fund to monitor and treat victims like Ryder, who've gotten sick. Nearly 1, 000 first responders have died since the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center more than nine years ago.

"We've reduced the cost by more than one billion dollars from $7.4 billion to $6.2 billion, and this will not diminish the health care we are able to provide for these heroes," said Gillibrand. "Barring a setback, we believe we're on the path to victory by the end of this week," Schumer said, adding "we don't know exactly when that will occur - that's often up to our Republican colleagues - but we're next."

The Senate GOP employed the often-used filibuster earlier this month to block passage of the legislation. A test vote came up short last week. The bill only got 57 of the 60 votes, super-majority need to pass muster.

Republicans oppose the bill on the grounds that it's too expensive, and not paid for, this as they pushed relentlessly for the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich and super-rich -- which along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were never funded.

According to 9/11 First Responder John Feal, "...you either vote like an American, or you vote like a non-American. When the bill comes up for a vote, this week -- Tuesday or Wednesday -- we'll know who voted like an American."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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