Wednesday, December 22, 2010

9/11 Deal is Struck by Michael McAuliff | New York Daily News

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The deal to pass athe 9/11 health bill is done, the Daily News has learned.
Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand met with other senators' staff and staff from Rep. Carolyn maloney's offce until well after midnight, cutting a new deal and trimming the package to care for 9/11 responders to $4.3 billion, sources close to the deal said.
They reached final agreement at about 11:30 this morning after the New York Democrats met for an hour with the prime GOP opponents, Sens. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Majority Leader Harry Reid is said to have joined the talks at the end, and agreed to try for quick passage.
The measure could be passed even before the START treaty is ratified.
Besides cutting the price for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act from $6.2 billion, the time span was also significantly limited to five years each for the health treatment program and the reopened 9/11 Victims' Compensation Fund.
Other concessions that negotiators had to make to Coburn and Enzi included a hard cap on lawyers' fees at 10%, and even stronger reporting requirements and Government Accountability Office reviews than were already in the bill.
Although people who took money from the recent 9/11 lawsuit were already accounted for in the Zadroga bill, Republicans insisted on stronger language ensuring they could not double-dip, and get money both from the legal deal and the bill.
One key provision the New York side refused to budge on was cutting the medical treatment pay scale, which was set at 140% of Medicaid because of high local medical costs.
The GOP side had hoped to set rates for sick responders at less than what federal workers get for workers' compensation claims.

Statement from Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:


U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer today announced they have reached a bipartisan agreement to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act today in the U.S. Senate.

Senators Gillibrand and Schumer issued the following statement:

“The Christmas Miracle we’ve been looking for has arrived. Over the last 24 hours, our Republican colleagues have negotiated in good-faith to forge a workable final package that will protect the health of the men and women who selflessly answered our nation’s call in her hour of greatest need. We are pleased to announce that we crafted an agreement that will allow this legislation to pass the Senate, and the House, this afternoon. We thank our Republican friends for coming together to fulfill America’s moral obligation to the Heroes of 9/11.
“This has been a long process, but we are now on the cusp of the victory these heroes deserve. We would not be here without the strong leadership of Majority Leader Reid, Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Nadler, Congressman King, Congressman Weiner, Congressman Crowley, Congressman McMahon, the entire New York Congressional delegation, and most of all, the many brave first responders and community survivors.”