Stearns Defends Provision on 9-11 Health Care Bill

A bill to provide medical care and insurance to first responders at Ground Zero in New York experienced one of the most labyrinthine paths to becoming law as any piece of legislation in recent years.

And now the measure is back in the news after a report in Huffington Post suggested that the package "may be adding insult to injury" to those who became sick after breathing the toxic air at Ground Zero.

When the House drew up the original bill, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) crafted a provision that would require the names of police officers, construction workers, firefighters and other personnel who are eligible for the health benefits be run through a law enforcement database to make sure they weren't on the country's terrorism watch list.

A House panel which wrote the bill approved Stearns' amendment by voice vote.

But months after the fact, Stearns plan drew the ire of some first responders who interpreted the watch list proviso as an undue burden.

In a statement, Stearns argued that the article was an effort "to inject controversy into a simple safeguard to protect American taxpayers and to properly honor the victims of 9/11, their families, the brave first responders and those who joined in the cleanup."

Stearns notes that no one opposed his amendment and "no one expressed any concern."