Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would provide medical and healthcare care to police, firefighters, medics and other responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A number of first responders have developed sicknesses from the toxic environment they were exposed to at the site of the attacks, may have dies or are in critical medical conditions even today and are unable to get medical care.
The vote fell three votes short of the 60 needed to pass, at 57-42. The US House originally passed the bill in September; it had been waiting for Senate approval to go into effect. The bill was supposedly blocked due to a Republican threat not to pass any legislation, other than government funding, until the legislature approves an extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
“I was really disappointed,” said Ken George. “That really hurt.”
George, a 9/11 search and rescue worker, is one of many actively calling on congress to provide aid to those in need.
The bill is needed to provide adequate medical aid for George and his fellow responders. He now suffers from a number of lung and airway diseases, PTSD, he endured a heart attack and remains on a number of medications. However, without the aid that would be provided by the blocked bill, George cannot afford to keep seeing his doctors.
“Whole life just turned upside down,” he said.
George said he is hopeful the bill will eventually pass, for his sake and others.
“If this bill doesn’t pass, then there’s going to be a lot of responders that will get sick and pass on, there’s gonna be a lot of responders that are gunna try and kill themselves, because they’re stuck, they don’t know where else to go. They need the hospitalization, they need the healthcare,” said George. “I hope to God it does pass.”
John Devlon, also a 9/11 search and rescue worker lobbying for the passage of the health bill, said “this bill is everything to the responder.”
He said it is a shame the US government is using numbers, partisan politics and technicalities against them, when so many people need help.
“Its ridiculous, were talking about lives here,” Devlon said. “You can’t be a republican or democrat Vote for that’s right
“I’m a patriot just like everybody else that was down there. When we were down there we were told the air was good,” he explained. “We were like guinea pigs down there and that’s how they are viewing us still.”
Devlon added, “We do so much for some many other people but were turning our backs on our own countrymen. I just don’t understand how these people can sleep at night.”