Pressure has been mounting on Republicans to relax their opposition to a bill to would provide health benefits to 9/11 first responders after Senate Republicans unanimously filibustered it earlier this month, but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told Politico yesterday that he will likely block the measure yet again. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said last night that the Senate must act immediately to complete the bill in order to allow enough time for the House to pass the same version before Congress recesses for Christmas. “[I]if you’re going to send us anything that we need to deal with, send it, frankly, by [Tuesday],” Hoyer told The Hill.
But appearing on Fox News this morning, Coburn defended his decision to obstruct the bill, saying he is upset with the process, and claiming that the bill was never considered by a congressional committee, and that there was never a hearing on it. Watch it:
Last night on Fox’s Red Eye, former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee urged the Senate to pass the bill immediately, telling the moving story of a friend of his from Texas who volunteered to come to New York City after 9/11, spent a year working there, and is now dying from cancer he contracted while on the job. “There are people who need medical care right now, and frankly, the clock is running out on them. Their lives are fading away, even as we sit here talking about it,” Huckabee said.
Likewise, former Republican New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani urged Congress to pass the bill straight away, noting the heroism these first responders showed in days and weeks after 9/11. Watch a compilation of Huckabee and Giuliani: