Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that, this coming week, he will bring a 9/11 first responders bill up for a vote. The bill, which has been passed by the House, would provide $7.4 billion in medical treatment and lost wages for workers who were sickened and injured by their service at Ground Zero.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) office indicated that the chances for invoking cloture (ie, getting 60 votes to overcome a filibuster) hinge on getting more Republican support. “We still need one more Republican to come on board,” said a Gillibrand spokesman.
With that hurdle in mind, tow truck driver T.J. Gilmartin, “who hauled ruined FDNY vehicles away from Ground Zero and now suffers from breathing problems, headed to Washington this week to lobby” for the 9/11 health bill. Gilmartin described this rude and depressing encounter he had with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):
“I thought I could talk to him. I mean, he’s a real hero, not like us. We’re just little half heroes.
“Our country took care of him when he came back. He was a POW. I respect that.
“I wasn’t stalking him or anything, but then I saw him in a hallway going to an elevator near the rotunda.
“It was a floor up from where they have the badges.
“I stepped in front of him, and I was very respectful. I told him who I was and I asked for his help on the Zadroga bill.
“It lasted maybe 10 or 15 seconds.
“He said ‘Thank you for your service.’
“And ‘I can’t help you.’
“Then, bang, he stepped around me and onto the elevator.
“If his eyes were daggers, I’d be dead. They’d all be in my heart.
“John McCain was pathetic. I would have thought more of him.”
McCain’s “pathetic” attitude towards a 9/11 first responder earned him this cover headline from the New York Daily News yesterday: