As a bipartisan, bicameral collection of lawmakers gathered on the center steps of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to participate in a ceremony to celebrate and honor the heroes of 9/11, one vocal group says they can't do that without passing the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Roughly 200 first responders and families of the fallen came to Washington to lobby Congress to pass the bill, which would provide medical treatment and economic assistance to those who were exposed to toxic debris at the Ground Zero site.
The victims say 9/11 is a national tragedy that deserves a national response. "It's not just a New York issue. It's an American issue," said Michael McPhillips, who was working with the New York City Office of Emergency Management on 9/11, "Half of the people there were out of state. We all need help."
The House tried to pass the bill in July under a procedural maneuver that required a two-thirds majority. The measure failed 255-159, with only 12 Republicans voting for the bill.
House GOPers said that they weren't necessarily opposed to the legislation, but were against offering it on the floor without a chance to offer amendments to the bill. That drew the ire of Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who in an infamous tirade on the House Floor, excoriated his colleagues on the other side of the aisle, "It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes," Weiner shouted, "It is a shame!"
The bill will be on the House floor again next week. It will be considered under regular order and require only a simple majority vote. McPhillips hopes that the bill will be less controversial this time around, "We asked them to take it as it is. Nine years is way too long."