By Maurice E. Duhon, Jr.
On Wednesday, the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was presented to our Senate. The Republican Party chose to filibuster the bill, blocking an end to the Senate’s debate. Closing debate would provide the path to a vote final vote on the bill that, if passed, would provide health care to the 9/11 first responders whom selflessly put their lives in danger’s path to rescue survivors and tirelessly sift through the remains of what is referred to and still resembles “ground zero”.
The bill is named in reference to James Zadroga. Zadroga was a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer who died of a respiratory disease that has been attributed to his participation in rescue and recovery operations in the rubble of the World Trade Center following the September 11 attacks. Zadroga was the first NYPD officer whose death was attributed to exposure to his contact with toxic chemicals at the attack site.
Zadroga had joined the New York City Police Department in 1992 and attained the rank of Detective. He was a healthy non-smoker and had no known history of asthma or other respiratory conditions before spending 450 hours participating in the recovery efforts at the 9/11 attack site. Weeks after his time at the World Trade Center site, Zadroga developed a persistent cough, and, as the months progressed, he developed shortness of breath and became unable to walk distances more than 100 feet without gasping for air.
Like Zadroga, many 9/11 rescuers have have suffered numerous health complications, most noted as being relatively healthy before the World Trade Center collapse. Some 9/11 first responders have died due to disease and health complications that were not an issue in their lives prior to 9/11.
The Republican caucus has decided the bill should not be voted on as of now and would prefer the vote to be held with the introduction of the new 112th Congress arriving after the New Year. This is also obvious due to the fact the Republican Party as a whole has agreed to vote on no other issue other than the new Bush Tax Cut compromise. The Republican Party was even inclined to put this statement in writing.
The Republicans insist on complaining about the cost of the 9/11 health care bill. Supporters of the 9/11 bill note the bill’s $7.4 billion dollar price tag is paid for by eliminated tax loopholes for foreign companies operating in the United States. The funds allocated from these tax loopholes would be used to fund the bill.
60 Senate votes were needed to close debate on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The recorded votes were as follows; 57 voted “for”, 42 voted “against”
56 Senators are Democrats
42 Senators are Republicans
2 Senators are Independents
Since the Senate allows unlimited discussion and debate on any issue, it requires a 60 Senator vote for a vote of “cloture” or a vote to end debate. With the republicans in a locked position and a locked vote on every issue, the democrats are stalled and helpless as the Senate majority. The republicans, in their permanent solidarity since the inauguration of our current president, have managed to halt the progress of any bill or concept presented to our government’s Senate. By applying simple math to the numbers given above, one can easily understand why our government’s legislative decision making processes have ceased.
In order to stop the democrats’ possible “tyranny by the majority” the republicans have decided to obstruct any progress by filibustering or threatening a filibuster of any legislation brought before the Senate. The republican answer to a possible “tyranny by the majority” is a ‘tyranny by the minority”.
This is prolifically unconstructive and non-productive. The only group to feel the pain caused by this stalling of our legislative system is and will only be the American people.
The simple math, applied to the numbers above, explains why truly positive or tangible changes have not been made to the laws and programs that are needed and necessary to repair or improve our country’s current status and our nation’s challenging days to come.
In 2011 the taxes for those individuals making under $20,000 a year will be raised and families making under $40,000 will also receive a raise in their taxes. It is with those tax revenues taken from the poorest of Americans, our President, Congress, and Senate believe our $12 trillion dollar national debt can be managed and avoided for the next year.
In the midst of our current recession, arguably the greatest trauma to affect the American citizen as a whole since World War II, our leaders feel it is not appropriate to tax anyone other than the poorest of our citizenry. Even as Americans pay less in taxes than they did under former President Bill Clinton.
There is no blame for me to place. The blame is on us all. From the President all the way down to the dishwasher. Everyone has contributed, in some way, to our current status. Whether it be, through selfishness, ignorance, tolerance, complacency, taking our country for granted, taking our lives for granted, whatever the case maybe. Until the American people are respected and not ignored by our nation’s leaders, we are all guilty of handing over our country and government to displaced and disconnected men and women in blue and red neckties and blouses.
The only winners in America this year were the Bush Tax Cuts, medical insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, outsourced businesses, our nation’s 4 largest banks, Wall St. bankers, hedge fund operators, and our nation’s Athletes.
In 2010, the only loser was the American Citizen.
When the bill was defeated in Congress, back in July, democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner chose to share these words with his fellow Congressmen and Congresswomen.