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Wednesday 22 December 2010

9/11 First Responders – The Time For Stalling Is Over

Later today, it is expected that the “Zadroga Bill”, which provides for health care for 9/11 First Responders, will come before the US Senate. Although both Senators from New York had previously expressed belief that they had the sixty votes needed to get this legislation through before the Christmas break, there is still opposition among some Republicans.

Most notably, Tom Coburn from Oklahoma has indicated that he intends to block the bill, saying that it hadn’t had a proper hearing. However, Coburn appears to have forgotten that the proposed legislation was subject to scrutiny by committee hearing in June – a hearing that Coburn could have attended, but did not.

The continued obstruction of a bill that, on the face of it, looks like a no-brainer, has caused anger even in the parts of the media that are normally ready to cheerlead for the GOP: yes, even at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Fox host Shep Smith has seemingly lost patience with the delaying tactics and, in turn, has been praised by liberal leaning commentators elsewhere.

This praise was on show in a live edition of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show, which last night came from the 92Y. Maddow singled out Shep Smith for his unswerving criticism of GOP obstructionism, and also called out Tom Coburn, showing coverage of the hearing for the Zadroga Bill and Coburn’s unoccupied chair.

Adding their voices have been former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said that “This is a matter of morality, it’s a matter of obligation”. Current Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that “the time for excuses is over”, and Mike Huckabee admitted on last Thursday’s Daily Show that “every Republican should vote for this bill”.

Giuliani and Huckabee were GOP Presidential hopefuls in 2008, and the latter may well feature in 2012. Hopefully Tom Coburn will quit stalling and discover his conscience in time for the vote later today.

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