Comedian Jon Stewart listens to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at an event to urge U.S. lawmakers to re-authorize the Zadroga Bill at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 16, 2015. 
Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

Protections for 9/11 first responders face stubborn hurdles

The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/2/15, 9:30 PM ET

9/11 first responders wait for GOP to act on popular health bill

Dan Moynihan, 9/11 first responder, talks with Rachel Maddow about the lobbying effort to generate support for the Zadroga Bill to help with the health care of 9/11 first responders. The bill enjoys wide support but needs House Republican leadership,…
Technically, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, created five years ago to cover health care costs for 9/11 first responders, has already expired. The law, which managed to overcome Republican objections in 2010, needed to be reauthorized two months ago, but GOP leaders largely ignored it. The measure was then supposed to be included in a recent transportation bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stripped the Zadroga provisions from the larger package.
Proponents, mostly Democrats, haven’t given up. New York magazine reported yesterday:
The legislation still hasn’t been renewed, and New York legislators have been busy trying to rally their colleagues to pass a long-term extension of the law so those at the mercy of Congress don’t have to worry about their health care disappearing every few years. However, there aren’t many chances to renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act – named after a first responder who died in 2006 – before the year ends. There’s the omnibus spending bill – the one that needs to pass if we’re going to avoid a shutdown – or a tax-breaks extension. […]
House Speaker Paul Ryan told NBC News last week, “We have not decided what vehicle it will be or what funding level but it is something we do intend to get done by the end of the year.”
For many involved in the fight, Paul Ryan’s intentions aren’t entirely reassuring. At an event held at Ground Zero over the weekend, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “I’ll tell you the legislation I’d like to propose: that those who block this legislation in its final week be required to attend a funeral of a first responder who rushed to the towers, got toxic stuff in his body, and died. Let them come to the funeral and see what they’re making happen.”
He was joined by a variety of New York policymakers and first responders, all of whom chanted, “Pass this bill!”
These proponents continue to have a high-profile ally who hopes to shame congressional Republicans into doing the right thing.
Jon Stewart is tired of Congress ignoring the men and women who rushed to help the people of New York after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Stewart joined “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah to talk about the current state of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, a bill meant to help cover medical expenses for first responders now suffering from a spate of health problems.
In a scathing on-air condemnation, Stewart said, “Sen. Mitch McConnell doesn’t give a s*** about anything but politics. He is the key to getting this done, and so far he has been an enormous obstacle – unwilling to move the bill forward for purely political reasons.”
For what it’s worth, there were quite a few rumors last week that McConnell was backing down and would allow the reauthorization to move forward, but the scuttlebutt proved to be wrong, or at least premature. As of this morning, it’s not clear when, of even if, the Zadroga 9/11 measure will be permitted to advance.
Five years ago, when there was a Democratic majority, Republicans tried to kill this legislation. Five years later, there’s a Republican majority, and there’s not much Democrats can do to force the GOP’s hand.

Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell and New York

Protections for 9/11 first responders face stubborn hurdles