Reauthorization for the Zadroga Act is being left out of a must-pass piece of legislation, advocates for the program tell the Daily News, leaving supporters howling that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is blocking crucial funding for 9/11 survivors. Zadroga Act backers were hoping to get it permanently reauthorized in the bipartisan Highway Bill, a piece of legislation that's expected to be released Tuesday evening. But funding for the program for 9/11 first responders and other victims of the terror attacks' aftermath, which officially expired last fall and will run out of money early next year, was left out during negotiations between the House and Senate in spite of expectations that it would be added.
[A]ides familiar with the negotiations say that Sen. McConnell asked that the highway bill also lift the U.S. ban on oil exports, and when that was not agreed to he stopped the Zadroga Act from being included in the five-year highway legislation. "I believe that Senator McConnell was using this as a negotiating position -- give us something, we'll give you help for the 9/11 rescue workers," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters on Tuesday, "And in the end he was the one, Senator (Charles) Schumer and (Kirsten) Gillibrand ticked off every box of every potential opponent, Democrat, Republican, House and Senate, and it all came down to one box at the bottom: Mitch McConnell. He stopped it."