Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) has made a deal with Senate Democrats to allow the 9/11 first responders bill to go forward to the House today, assuming it passes the Senate as expected. In exchange for Coburn’s agreement to forgo the usual debate period, the bill’s price tag will decrease from $6.2 billion to $4.2 billion.
“I’m standing for us as America, the realization that we have to do things efficiently and economically,” Coburn told ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “We’ve worked out a deal now that spends a whole lot less money, accomplishes exactly the same thing, and does it in a way that protects our future. Every bill should have to go through that — and the fact that they don’t is a problem. That’s why we’re $14 trillion in debt.”
“So I don’t mind taking the heat,” Coburn added, referring to the criticism about his opposition to the legislation. “You know, as a physician I care about those people. As a citizen, I care about the firefighters of my own city and every other city. The fact is you can still do it right. So you take all the heat, but you still it get done. So what we need is more people taking more heat so we get the right things done.”
According to ABC, changes in the legislation include closing the Victims Compensation fund in five (instead of twenty) years, and setting caps on lawyers’ fees.
UPDATE: The Senate just passed the 9/11 bill by unanimous consent. And Coburn has released additional details on the compromise he reached with Senate Democrats.