Sen. Kristen Gillibrand is hoping for a “Christmas miracle” even while insisting she and her fellow New York senator, Chuck Schumer, have enough votes to pass expanded health care benefits for 9/11 emergency responders.
Gillibrand made the morning rounds on television today to make a pitch to the House, where her bill to provide medical care for 9/11 firefighters and other emergency responders must also pass before the end of the waning lame-duck session. The bill failed a test vote in the Senate earlier in the month when Republicans blocked it to prioritize the tax deal, but Gillibrand and Schumer introduced a new, less costly version this weekend.
“What we’re aiming for right now is a Christmas miracle,” Gililbrand said this morning on Fox & Friends.
Under the new plan, the bill’s price tag was reduced from $7.2 billion to $6.2 billion and will be paid for differently. Previously, the cost would have been funded through a corporate tax on multinational firms incorporated in tax havens. The new proposal calls for an excise tax on foreign firms that are awarded U.S. government procurement contracts and extends fees on some firms that rely on H-1B and L-1 visas and travelers who don’t present visa documents at American airports.
Gillibrand said they were able to reduce the cost of the bill because some of the first responders had received a court settlement that offset some of their medical costs.
She insisted that the new bill has enough support in the Senate and said on MSNBC that it’s “not controversial.” But that didn’t stop her from making an emotional plea for the bill.
“These are the men and women who raced up those towers when everyone was coming down,” she said on Fox. “They are the men and women who stayed on that pile for weeks and months. They’re the ones who first looked for survivors, then looked for remains. If you remember, they were there on Christmas day after 9/11 because families were so eager to find out if they could find their loved ones.”