The bill is named for James Zadroga, a New York City police detective who worked several weeks at Ground Zero, and is the first 9/11 responder to have his death in 2006 attributed to illness contracted at the site.
The bill would establish an $7 billion fund over 10 years, with roughly a third of that going to cover the healthcare costs of the victims, and the other two-thirds to compensate them for their losses. Over 20,000 people, according to government figures, have suffered since the event, either from exposure to the toxic dust of pulverized buildings and combusted chemicals, or injuries, or post-traumatic stress, or two or all three [Joseph Picard, "House Passes Ground Zero Healthcare Bill," International Business Times, 2010.09.29].
All but four House Democrats voted for this bill. 88% of House Republicans voted against it. Republicans Kristi Noem likes—the man she won't admit she'll pick for speaker, John Boehner; the woman she imitates, Michele Bachmann; the man whose plan to privatize Social Security and Medicare she supports, Paul Ryan—voted against providing health care to the first heroes of the current War on Terrorism. Why? Because Republicans think paying medical bills for firefighters is "to put on the backs of the American taxpayer a new, $7 billion entitlement program."
Entitlement program? As Rep. Anthony Weiner says, if anyone is entitled to health benefits, it's the people who ran toward the smoke and flames and toxic dust on September 11, 2001.
The vote on the Zadroga Bill shows the gutless, heartless, hypocritical politics you'll get if you vote for Kristi Noem, or if you sit back and let her win by withholding your vote from Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Republicans will cloak themselves in the patriotism and heroism of 9/11, but they won't put their money where their mouths are. Democrats are willing to pay what we owe to our fellow Americans.