House Democratic leaders announced Friday that they will again bring a controversial measure to the floor to cover health costs of workers who inhaled the dangerous cloud of ash spewed in the wake of the World Trade Center towers after they collapsed on September 11, 2001.
The House debated the plan in July. And the bill garnered a clear majority of support during a roll call vote. But the legislation failed because House leaders brought the bill to the floor under a procedure that requires a two-thirds supermajority for approval.
The defeat of the bill ignited a firestorm of charges and countercharges between Democrats and Republicans as to who was to blame for the implosion of the measure.
Most Republicans opposed the bill because of what they considered to be fiscal chicanery to cover the health costs. Democrats used the supermajority maneuver to prevent Republicans from altering the legislation by banning illegal immigrants who worked at Ground Zero to be eligible for the health benefits.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) say they will bring the bill back for debate under the House's "regular" procedures. But were silent on whether they would give Republicans an opportunity to alter or kill the package."The bill will be subject to a rule. But we will make clear that this issue is far too important to use as a vehicle to score political points," said a House Democratic leadership aide.
In a joint statement, Pelosi and Hoyer said they hoped they would "have a strong, bipartisan vote to pass this critical legislation."