Monday, November 15, 2010

Mayor seeking 9/11 health aid

From Devlin Barrett of The Wall Street Journal on Nov. 15:
How do you say you're sorry for calling someone illiterate—and then ask them for $7.4 billion? That will be Mayor Michael Bloomberg's assignment as he tries to help get a health bill through the U.S. Senate for sick Ground Zero workers and others in Lower Manhattan exposed to toxic dust from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The mayor plans to join New York's congressional delegation in Washington Tuesday as part of the final effort to get the bill passed before a new group of Republican legislators who have vowed to slash spending take office.

The legislation would provide $3.2 billion for long-term health care for rescue workers and construction workers at Ground Zero and another $4.2 billion in compensation for those exposed to the toxic dust.

The trip may require some delicate diplomacy. It will be Mr. Bloomberg's first visit to Washington since he claimed in China that some members of Congress don't understand the global economy, and can't even read.

The House of Representatives already approved the bill. To pass it in the Senate, Democrats must convince one or two Republicans to vote for the bill, at a time when the GOP is talking about cutting, not growing, federal spending.

"I'm talking to Republicans every day about the merits of this legislation,'' Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement as she travels this week in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


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