There is not a week that goes by that there is not something to fight about in Congress, and this week is no exception. On the fight card this week was the 9/11 First Responders Bill, formally known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill, named after a deceased New York Police Department detective who had worked in the toxic plume at ground zero. At issue is that lame duck Democrats are trying to push the bill through, as they are in the habit of doing, without providing for the opportunity for bipartisan discussion on the bill.
Republicans want to pass the bill, but they have not been allowed to ask questions or offer amendments to handle numerous concerns that they have about the bill.
The first issue was that the bill was going to be funded by raising taxes, which violated stated Democratic rules when they assumed power that new spending would have to be funded by cuts in other spending. Initially, Democrats tried to resolve this by creating a 2 percent tariff on countries that trade with the U.S. unless they sign a procurement agreement. Later they decided to take money from a foreign tourist, visa-waiver program that was designed to promote the travel industry, which has troubled many in the industry. In addition, they decided to charge fees to companies that bring employees into the country on visas. In the end, the bill was able to be funded.
Another issue that the bill does not address is that some of the first responders have received compensation from a victim compensation fund. The bill does not address if someone is eligible to receive compensation if compensation was already received from another government source.
One of the larger issues is that there was improper accounting for funds that were previously allocated, which has resulted in funds being spent without record of where it went. Republicans want to be sure that if funds are allocated, there is proper accounting for the money as there have been numerous cases of fraudulent claims. This has led liberals to scapegoat the Republicans as being responsible for holding up the bill, while not telling the public that Democrats are the majority party in both houses and they did not allow Republicans to discuss the bill.
Meanwhile, there was no hesitation to pile on the Christmas propaganda fest about who was responsible for the delay to get the bill passed. Jon Steward ranted on his show several minutes about how evil Republicans were not to pass the bill. He said their failure to pass the bill is “an outrageous abdication of our responsibility to those who were most heroic on 9/11.” However, he made no mention about how Republicans were the minority party and not in control of the bill either. Likewise, he did not answer the critical questions that need to be asked and followed the Democratic party line by essentially saying it does not matter what is in the bill, just pass it.
The White House also seized upon Stewart’s propaganda to blame the Republicans for the bill not being passed. They too failed to mention that the Democrats are in control of both houses and that the bill was not ready to pass in its present form.
No matter what either party says, the simple fact that Congress argued about Don’t ask, Don’t tell and a half dozen other bills of lesser importance while this bill should have been hammered out long ago, tells Americans that the lives of 9/11 first responders are nothing but political tools to be used for propaganda.
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In addition to writing for the Classical Conservative, Dr. Michael Williams writes columns as a national Conservative Examiner and as a local Albuquerque Family Examiner. You can follow him on Twitter: @drmlwilliams. He can be reached at by email at: email@example.com.