Thursday, August 5, 2010

Important NY Times Editorial: Feckless and Cruel

This weekend, the New York Times wrote an editorial about Rep. Carolyn Maloney's James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, which we thought you would be interested in reading.

New York Times: Feckless and Cruel
July 31, 2010

In a shameful bout of election-year politicking, the House has rejected badly needed help for rescue workers and residents still suffering from the Sept. 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center. What should have been swift bipartisan approval of a plan for medical and economic compensation turned into an ugly political brawl.

The House action was an insult, especially to the tens of thousands of ordinary citizens who pitched in selflessly for weeks in the cleanup, and have since developed grave illnesses from the toxic dust and debris of ground zero. Their needs were pushed aside as lawmaking degenerated into a game of election-year chicken.

The Democratic leadership, cowed by the Republicans' relentless campaign-focused bluster no matter what the bill, foolishly ordered limited debate. That meant they had to accept an impossible two-thirds vote for approval. Republicans then voted no in near lock step. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was correct in pronouncing a pox on all as the bill fell short, 255 to 159.

The measure, which calls for $3.2 billion in medical aid over eight years and $4.2 billion in economic compensation, should have been put to a simple majority vote. If Republicans chose to oppose it with campaign boilerplate, the blame for failure would undeniably be theirs.

The House leadership needs to bring the measure back for a second vote requiring a simple majority. A small window remains after the summer recess. Lawmakers will have a chance to show that, beyond the fear and loathing that's driving vicious House partisanship, a shred of comity can still be managed, especially when it comes to the victims of Sept. 11.

The main sponsors, Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, Democrats of New York, and Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, are rightly still pressing to get the bill passed this year. This September marks the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The country must not forget any of its victims.



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