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9/11 Health Care Bill Voted Down in the House, Rep. Anthony Weiner Furious Over Outcome

By Heather Grossmann | July 30, 2010 12:04am | Updated on July 30, 2010 12:31pm

By Heather Grossmann

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — The 9/11 health bill was shot down on Capital Hill Thursday night after failing to attain the two thirds majority necessary for passage in the House.

The bill, known as the Zadroga Act in honor of fallen 9/11 first responder James Zadroga, would guarantee the long-term operations of health care programs set up years ago for first responders and residents who were hurt or became ill in the aftermath of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center.

The 255-to-159 vote fell short of the two-thirds margin needed under special procedural rules that were used to bring the measure to the floor. The vote went mostly down party lines with 243 Democrats and 12 Republicans in favor of the bill and 155 Republicans and 4 Democrats opposed.

Workmen attach cables from a crane to a steel beam at the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan, Monday, October 8, 2001.
Workmen attach cables from a crane to a steel beam at the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan, Monday, October 8, 2001.
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AP Photo/Stuart Ramson

Following the vote, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner took to the floor to make an angry, fist-thumping speech in which he accused Republicans of hiding behind objections to the procedural rules at play, including limited debate on the bill and no amendments, when they voted against it.

“You vote yes if you believe yes,” he yelled furiously, rapping the podium with his fist. “You vote in favor of something if you believe it’s the right thing."

"I will not stand here and listen to my colleagues say 'if only I had a different procedure that allows us to stall, stall and then vote no!'" Weiner continued, saying that Republicans did not do the "right thing on behalf of the heroes."

Republican opponents of the bill have argued that the measure, which would pay up to $7.4 billion in compensation to victims, was not tenable at a time of ballooning federal deficits.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg blasted the outcome of the vote and criticized both parties.

"It was wrong for the overwhelming majority of Republicans to vote against the bill," Bloomberg told reporters, "and it was wrong for Democrats to bring the bill to the floor under rules that made passage so much more difficult."

Thursday’s vote occurred under suspension of House rules, which is usually used for non-controversial legislation and limits the debate on the bill, prohibits amendments from being added and requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

Although the bill did not pass the House Thursday, New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King, the bill's sponsors, said that the 255 votes in favor of the bill — which included 11 Republicans in addition to King — show that the Zadroga Act has the support of the majority and is likely to pass when it comes up again under "normal rules."

First responders battle clouds of dust and smoke at Ground Zero in October 2001.
First responders battle clouds of dust and smoke at Ground Zero in October 2001.
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AP Photo/Stan Honda

"We will not rest until we finally provide proper care for ailing 9/11 responders and survivors, and fill the last remaining gap in America’s recovery from the attacks. Nine long years after the attacks, the living victims of 9/11 are still suffering. We must pass this bill. It is the least we can do as a grateful nation," New York City’s congressmen said in a joint statement.

New York Rep. Anthony Weiner went on a tirade on the House floor after the 9/11 Health Car Bill was voted down on Thursday.
New York Rep. Anthony Weiner went on a tirade on the House floor after the 9/11 Health Car Bill was voted down on Thursday.
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AP Photo/Susan Walsh