The GOP hostage crisis continues, only this time, the ones holding the guns are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who have ordered their lackeys in the U.S. Senate to effectively kill first responders who were sickened rescuing people from the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, unless Democrats withdraw their proposal to fund these heroes’ healthcare by closing a jobs offshoring loophole. Seriously.
From Chattahbox, a good summation of where we are:
One of the most despicable actions of the Senate Republicans during the current legislative session is telling our 9/11 first responders to go to hell. Nine-years after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, thousands of firefighters, policeman, construction workers and others have fallen ill from breathing in the toxic fumes and dust at Ground Zero. Many others have lost their battles with cancer and heart and lung problems. The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed by the House, would provide $7.4 billion to take care of the health needs of our 9/11 heroes, but every single member of the Republican caucus in the Senate filibustered the bill. It’s a disgrace. But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is vowing to revive the bill with a new funding plan to gain GOP votes, before the lame-duck session runs out.
Before the health bill was finally passed in the HouseRepublican lawmakers attacked it as a “slush fund” for greedy 9/11 scammers. Republican Senators balked at funding the health bill by closing a tax loophole given to foreign corporations operating in the US Why? Because the US Chamber of Commerce, a right-wing organization that lobbies for the interests of multinational corporations opposed ending the tax loophole. And the Republicans did they bidding by blocking a bill to helpour sick and dying 9/11 heroes.
But Democrats led by Gillibrand have worked out another plan to fund the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act with additional federal fees.
The new plan would involve assessing unnamed federal fees instead of closing the tax loophole that would have made it more expensive for the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce’s clients to offshore American jobs. Per the New York Times, word that the hostage takers will accept that ransom (which liberals should note is being offered by the “fightin” Dems, not the president of the United States…)
“We have the votes we need,” Ms. Gillibrand said. “We have indications from several Republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill.”
The $7.4 billion measure is intended to provide medical care to workers and others who had become ill as a result of being exposed to toxic debris and fumes at the site of the World Trade Center attack in 2001.
Republicans have raised concerns about how to pay for the program, and Ms. Gillibrand said the bill’s authors have identified ways to cover the costs through new federal fees that are acceptable to enough Republicans to advance the measure. It stalled on a party line vote of 57 to 42 when 60 votes were required.
She said the Senate could consider the measure after it concludes debate over a nuclear weapons treaty. But with Congress trying to adjourn before Christmas, time is running short, and it is unclear how many additional bills can reach the floor. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has indicated that he is open to allowing another vote on the health plan before Congress adjourns.
The bill, formally known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, calls for providing $3.2 billion over the next eight years to monitor and treat injuries stemming from exposure to toxic dust and debris at ground zero. New York City would pay 10 percent of those health costs. The bill would also set aside $4.2 billion to reopen the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide payments for job and economic losses.
And from Raw Story, more on the despicable lobbying of the “U.S.” Chamber:
The US Chamber of Commerce lobbied to kill a bill that would have helped cover medical expenses and compensation for first responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to documents available online.
The Chamber’s aim was to keep open a tax loophole benefiting foreign corporations that the $7.4 billion bill would have closed to provide funding for the American emergency workers.
In a letter opposing the 9/11 bill, R. Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice president for Government Affairs, cautioned that closing the tax loophole would harm US trade relationships and financial markets.
“In typical fashion, the Chamber has not revealed which of its foreign members had asked them to kill the 9/11 bill,” Lee Fang of Alternet.org wrote.
An excerpt of that letter:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, urges that a provision related to taxation of foreign owned companies be removed from H.R. 847, the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010,” because H.R. 847 is an inappropriate vehicle for such esoteric and unrelated concerns.
The Chamber strongly opposes a tax on foreign-owned companies doing business in the United States. The provision included in H.R. 847 would raise taxes on foreign corporations that invest and create jobs domestically, would discourage foreign investment in the United States, override long-standing tax treaties, damage U.S. relationships with major trading partners, and could prompt retaliation by foreign governments against U.S. companies operating abroad.
Furthermore, the provision would further aggravate already unsettled financial markets. At a time when governments around the world are enhancing their companies’ competitiveness by cutting corporate taxes, this provision would create an even more hostile tax environment in the United States. Such a provision sends precisely the wrong message to those firms wanting to invest in America.
This taxation provision should not be shoehorned into H.R. 847, which is legislation targeted at the needs of some responders to the 9/11 terrorist attack. Should Congress seek to consider tax-related legislation during the few remaining session days before the election, the Chamber believes Congress should take up legislation that would help promote economic growth, especially legislation to extend all of the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax provisions and the tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009.
R. Bruce Josten
The despicable actions of the Chamber and of Republicans on this bill have received scant coverage in the U.S. media. Earlier in the year, obstruction of the bill in the House led to an epic rant by New York Congressman Robert Weiner, but the bill ultimately passed. Now, the only person who seemed to be paying attention to the bill was New Yorker (and former Weiner college roommate) Jon Stewart, who tore into the GOP over the bill on “The Daily Show”:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
And even convened a panel of first responders to take on Republicans like John Kyl who have stood in opposition to the bill:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster|
Stewart ripped into the major TV and cable networks for not covering the bill, including Fox News, which as Media Matters has pointed out, has failed to mention that it is the GOP that is holding up the bill.
This has been a colossal failure on the part of the media, and one of the most shameful in a long list of shameful episodes for the Republican Party, which in a single week, proved that while tax cuts for the richest Americans and allowing big corporations to offshore American jobs are top priorities for them (along with making sure that they get home for Christmas) … the health of 9/11 heroes, the financial stability of middle class Americans, the future of young people who could be a credit to this country as citizens, nuclear security, and even the very lives of Americans who aren’t rich mean absolutely nothing to them. John McCain even called taking up the 9/11 first responders bill “fooling around.” Seriously.
Voters, you’ve been warned.