NY pols stunned to learn Obama administration opposes funding for 9/11 health bill

Michael McAuliff
NY Daily News
January 28, 2010

A New York Fire Department Chief, firefighters from various municipalities, and other rescue workers take a break Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001, from the rescue/recovery effort at the World Trade Center site. (AP Photo/FEMA, Andrea Booher)

A New York Fire Department Chief, firefighters from various municipalities, and other rescue workers take a break Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001, from the rescue/recovery effort at the World Trade Center site. (AP Photo/FEMA, Andrea Booher)

The Obama administration stunned New York’s delegation Thursday, dropping the bombshell news that it does not support funding the 9/11 health bill.

The state’s two senators and 14 House members met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius just hours before President Obama implored in his speech to the nation for Congress to come together and deliver a government that delivers on its promises to the American people.

So the legislators were floored to learn the Democratic administration does not want to deliver for the tens of thousands of people who sacrificed after 9/11, and the untold numbers now getting sick.

“I was stunned — and very disappointed,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who like most of the other legislators had expected more of a discussion on how to more forward.

“To say the least, I was flabbergasted,” said Staten Island Rep. Mike McMahon.

The 9/11 bill would spend about $11 billion over 30 years to care for the growing numbers of people getting sick from their service at Ground Zero, and to compensate families for their losses.

The legislators were shocked the idea was falling lower on the administration priority list than other parts of the war on terror and financial bailouts.

“She made it clear that the administration does not support any kind of funding mechanism that goes into the bill,” said Bronx Rep. Eliot Engel. “I think it’s fiscal restraint… but you know what? They find money for everything else, they need to find money for this,” Engel said.

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