In a 268 to 160 vote, the House of Representatives approved a $7 billion health bill for first responders and residents of New York City who fell ill due to breathing toxic fumes, dust, and smoke at ground zero after the World Trade Center towers collapsed—over 9 years ago.
The bill currently excludes illegal immigrants from qualifying for the health benefits.
Over the next 8 years, the bill calls for providing $3.2 billion to monitor and treat injuries caused by exposure to toxic dust and debris. New York City would be responsible for 10% of those health costs. Just over $4 billion will be allocated to reopen the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provides compensation for any job and economic losses. Sponsors of the bill site that there are nearly 60,000 people enrolled in a variety of health monitoring and treatment programs related to the 9/11 attacks.
Supports of the bill argued that the nation has a moral obligation to help those who risked their lives when responding to the crisis. Those who opposed the bill argued that it was unnecessary due to programs such as the Victim Compensation Fund, as well as raising concerns about the government’s huge budget deficit.
This was the second time this year that the House voted on the 9/11 health bill. In July, the vote fell short of the two-thirds margin required to pass the bill.