By Ben Fractenberg and Jordan Heller
MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Washington Tuesday in an effort to save the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act from a Republican filibuster.
The measure, which has passed the House and is currently awaiting passage in the Senate, would provide more than $7 billion in aid to first responders and other rescue workers sickened by exposure to toxic dust at the site of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
But some Republicans think the bill too costly and, unless two Republican senators are persuaded to vote for it, the process would start from scratch and have an uphill climb in the new Congress.
To that end, Bloomberg met with Republican senators Susan Collins, Scott Brown and John McCain, and Republican Senator-elect Mark Kirk on Tuesday.
"I've said it privately to some senators I've already met with today, I'm saying it publicly here," Bloomberg said at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
"Until the Senate passes a 9/11 Health bill, the future of all these critical programs — and the lives of many of our most patriotic citizens — remain in jeopardy," he said.
The mayor's remarks come despite the fact that the city has invested $124 million in legal fees in an attempt to fight lawsuits from the emergency workers and construction workers sickened after spending time on the smoldering rubble at Ground Zero, according to reports.
Sen. Charles Schumer said supporters are still short of passing the bill.
"We don’t have the votes that we need right now, but we are working hard to get them," said Schumer. "We are very close."
Democrats are hoping to pass the legislation before the end of the lame-duck session, when their majority in the Senate drops from 59 to 53 and they lose control of the House.