Sunday, December 26, 2010

America Made Their Voices Heard for Our 9/11 Heroes by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand - The Huffington Post

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Today we saw a true Christmas miracle take place in the US Senate.
Two weeks ago, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act was defeated on a procedural vote, the casualty of political gamesmanship so common in Washington. Because we didn't have the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, this crucial piece of legislation to provide critical health care for our brave 9/11 heroes could not proceed to an up or down vote.
But that vote two weeks ago was a turning point. It made people sit up and say, wait a minute, this isn't right, we owe these brave men and women. Who are we as Americans if we don't take care of our heroes? Well, it's been nine long years since these brave men and women answered the call on 9/11 and I'm so proud that today the US Senate has now answered theirs.
Democrats and Republicans came together to finally pass this bill and fulfill the moral obligation we have to our 9/11 heroes and provide them with the healthcare they need.
We would not be here without the strong leadership of Senator Schumer, Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Nadler, Congressman King, Congressman Weiner, Congressman Crowley, Congressman McMahon, the entire New York Congressional delegation. And I'm so grateful to Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer whose leadership has allowed us to expedite passage of this important legislation today. Thanks also to Secretary Clinton who worked tirelessly on this bill while in the Senate.
And then there are all the first responders who've been working with me and my team since I came to the Senate last year. They've walked the halls of Congress, they've made calls, written letters, appeared on TV, whatever it took to help their brothers and sisters who are sick and dying get the health care they need. We couldn't have done this without their tireless advocacy.
Many of us felt deeply that this bill was the right thing to do, but there were some who insisted on playing politics with the lives of 9/11 heroes. Thankfully, Americans from across the country made their voices heard. Jon Stewart, Shepard Smith, and many others gave the issue the extra attention it needed and put pressure on Republicans in Washington to do the right thing.
People from all over tweeted and Facebooked, blogged and called their senators in support of this bill and to express outrage at the Senate's inability to get this done. I've been truly moved by the overwhelming reaction to this bill, and I can't thank you all enough for helping make this Christmas miracle a reality for our 9/11 heroes.