9/11 bill passes committee
The 9/11 health bill cleared a key hurdle Tuesday when a House of Representatives panel passed it overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.
The Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee voted 25 to 8 to support the $11 billion bill, which would provide medical monitoring to first responders, residents, students and office workers who were exposed to toxic chemicals and dust on 9/11 and treatment to those who were injured or have become sick as a result. Last summer, the House’s Judiciary Committee approved the other piece of the bill, which would reopen the victims’ compensation fund.
During Tuesday’s debate, the members of the Health Subcommittee amended the act to place a cap on how much money can be spent. The federal government will spend no more than $5.1 billion over the next 10 years on healthcare and monitoring and $700 million a year thereafter, according to the amended version. The federal government has estimated that the other piece, the victims’ compensation fund, will cost about $6 billion, but it is still uncapped.
The next step is for the full Energy and Commerce Committee to take up the bill, which is named for James Zadroga, an N.Y.P.D. detective who died of pulmonary fibrosis after working at ground zero.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer introduced a companion bill in the Senate last year.
Even if the bill passes both the House and the Senate, President Obama has not pledged to support it. Although an Obama spokesperson said during the 2008 campaign that Obama backed a previous version of the bill, his administration criticized the bill’s open-ended spending mechanism earlier this year.
— Julie Shapiro