Congressional Fire Service Caucus and the 9/11 First Responder Bill

(Scroll to the bottom to see updates)

I ran across a news article about Senator Joesph Lieberman (I-CT) accepting the nomination to serve as one of the seven or eight Co-Chairs of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, a nonpartisan group of more than 320 members of congress which:

…unites Republicans and Democrats in support of fire service legislation that benefits all first responders.

Peter King

Rep. Peter King

In perusing the Caucus’s web site, which is run by the Congressional Fire Services Institute, it turns out that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is the Chairman of the Caucus. His name rings a bell as the off-camera Representative to which Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was directing his anger in the video we posted on July 30, 2010. (Here is a link to another video about that encounter.)

The heated rhetoric between the two members of congress concerned a procedural delay introduced by Rep. King which initially prevented the passage in the House of the 9/11 First Responder Health Care Bill, officially known in the Senate as “S. 1334: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2009“. Rep. King sought to delay the passage of the bill while Rep. Weiner angrily recommended passage. The bill would provide health care costs for 9/11 rescue workers, sickened after exposure to the toxic smoke and debris. Finally, the House passed the bill in September.

Recently, however, Rep. King has come out strongly in favor of the 9/11 First Responder Health Care Bill. In fact, he is one of the few Republicans to openly support it, and on December 7, 2010 wrote a letter to his Republican colleagues asking for their votes in the Senate.

There is still a chance that the bill will receive an up or down vote in the Senate before the session ends this year. Votes have been prevented previously by a Republican filibuster. If it is not passed by the Senate this year, the slate will be wiped clean and it will have to be re-introduced in both the House and the Senate next year.

But you can help get the bill passed. CALL YOUR SENATORS! Here is a list of their phone numbers.

If you are still undecided about helping firefighters, check out Jon Stewart’s position on the issue of health care for 9/11 first responders.

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UPDATE @ 4:37 p.m. MT, Dec. 20, 2010:

The Wall Street Journal has the latest news about the bill.

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UPDATE @ 9:00 p.m. MT, December 21, 2010:

This bill is gathering more attention thanks to Jon Stewart. It appears that there are enough votes now in the Senate to pass a slightly revised version. BUT. There is one Senator that says he will hold it and prevent its passage. That esteemed individual is Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

In an interview on Fox News Coburn said two of his reasons for killing the bill are:

1. The bill has not been through a committee yet and there have been no hearings.

WRONG. A committee that Coburn is on held hearings on the bill, but Coburn chose not to attend.

2. Coburn said: “This is a bill that has been drawn up and forced through Congress at the end of the year on a basis to solve a problem that we didn’t have time to solve and we didn’t get done.”

WRONG. The bill was introduced in the Senate June 24, 2009, and was passed by the House on September 29, 2010, but has not been voted on in the Senate.

It is incredible that an idiot like this can single-handedly prevent our 9/11 first responders, some of whom are dying from exposure to toxic shit at the 9/11 site, to receive the health care they need.

Even if the Senate does pass this bill over the insane objections of Senator Dufuss Coburn, the House will still need to vote on the revised version, since it has been changed after they passed it in September.

More information:

  • Even Fox New’s Shep Smith took on Senator Coburn today for his stance on this bill. See the 37-second video HERE.
  • Shep Smith called many Senators who refused to talk with him about the bill. “We called a lot of Republicans today who are in office at the moment,” he said Monday afternoon. “These are the ones who told us ‘no': Senators Alexander, Barrasso, Cornyn, Crapo, DeMint, Enzi, Grassley, Kyl, McConnell, Sessions, Baucus, Gregg, and Inhofe. No response from Bunning, Coburn, Ensign, Graham, Hatch, and McCain.”
  • We first wrote about this bill on July 30, 2010.
  • And we wrote more about it on December 17, 2010. That post has two videos in which Jon Stewart takes on the issue.
  • Call your two Senators (list of phone numbers) especially if one or both of them are Republicans, most of whom plan to vote against the bill.
  • Call Senator Tom Coburn’s office at (202) 224-5754.
  • A few hours after we wrote our second article about this issue on December 17, if you searched Google for “9/11 First Responder Health Care Bill”, that Wildfire Today article was the fifth one listed on the first page. Now there has been so much publicity about the issue that Wildfire Today does not show up in the first five pages of Google results.
  • This is the sixth time we have used the tag “idiot” for an article since January, 2008.
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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

One thought on “Congressional Fire Service Caucus and the 9/11 First Responder Bill

  1. Montana’s only Congressman, Denny Rehberg, voted AGAINST this bill in the House. Denny is a multi-millionaire (one of the 20 most wealthy members of the House), is well covered by the Federal employee Health preogam, and recently filed a lawsuit against the City of Billings Fire Department beacuase of the loss of value to his potential subdivision lots when some juniper and sage brush burned in a 2008 wildfire. He also voted against health care reform and extending the unemployment benefits.

    I really wonder if “the People” and those first responders, are well served by this Representative? It must depend on which side of a $1,000,000+ bank account you sit?

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