Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) will hold a procedural vote on the 9/11 first responders bill at noon, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.).
“We believe we’ll get the 60 votes, as, remember, we only got 58 when we did it a week or two ago,” Schumer said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier today.
If the cloture vote passes, Democrats hope to hold a final vote soon after and send the bill to the House this afternoon. But Senate Democrats are concerned that Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) will insist the bill have the full debate period in the Senate before a final vote can be held.
“Any senator can delay it [a bill] for more than 90 hours because of the various procedural ways the Senate works,” said Schumer, saying that such a time period would push the bill’s final passage until after Christmas. “We won’t have enough members here to vote by then,” he commented.
Yesterday, Coburn released on his website a 7-page document summarizing his objections to the bill.
“The United States of America does have an obligation to provide for those devastated by the tragic events of September 11, 2001,” the document stated. “It is not unpatriotic, however, to express concerns with the specific approach of H.R. 847, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.”
Coburn criticized the bill for funding unnecessary new programs and argues that at least $3 billion would finance “unnecessary and duplicative compensation funds.” Stating that most 9/11 families had received amounts averaging over $2 million and that over 2,500 of those injured on 9/11 had received an average of $400,000, Coburn questioned the necessity of re-opening (and re-funding) the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
National Review editorialized against the legislation earlier this month.