These folks deserve better. (photo: Viewmaker via Flickr)

After new START gets ratification today, we’re going to apparently get the first test vote on the 9-11 health care bill. With Tom Coburn committed to blocking or at least delaying the bill, there’s no chance of unanimous consent, but the leadership of both parties is working out some kind of agreement to consider it. The House is prepared to pass the measure as well, but they’re waiting to see what the Senate will do.

Basically, nobody wants to come back the week after Christmas. In the House, a substantial number of members didn’t come back this week. Yesterday, the House passed Senate versions of the COMPETES Act, the food safety bill and the continuing resolution to fund the government, with close to 100 members missing the votes. Schedule something after Christmas and you could have 50 members show up.

So the House wants to finish today. And if they pass the 9-11 bill, they can. I think they’re just waiting to see how long this will take in the Senate, or for them to amend the House version so they can get it back.

Certainly all hands are on deck to try and pressure Republicans. First responders rallied in Washington yesterday trying to get the Senate to act. A group of Oklahoma City first responders who were at the site of the Murrah Federal Building attack in 1995 urged Coburn, the Oklahoman, to relent:

As the first responders to the tragic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, the professional fire fighters of Oklahoma call upon the United States Senate to pass the James A. Zadroga Health and Compensation Act.

The brave men and women who responded to the 9/11 attacks deserve to be protected. An event like 9/11 exposes public safety personnel to high levels of toxins, physiological, and psychological hazards that cause both immediate and long term mental and physical health issues. It has been almost ten years since that tragic day and fire fighters, police officers, and those who worked on the pile remain without adequate health monitoring and care. It is a national disgrace.

“We lived through the horror in Oklahoma City in April 1995, and many of our members responded to Ground Zero during 9/11. Fire fighters are always there for our country, and we need Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe to be there for our FDNY brothers and sisters!

Heck, after getting dressed down by Carolyn Maloney, maybe even the President will engage on this issue rather than having Jon Stewart do it for him.

The goal is to stop Coburn from objecting, and then to pass the bill via unanimous consent (or at least to get an up-or-down vote without time-wasting cloture votes that could delay the bill for a week). Coburn does not appear to be budging, and there’s a policy component to this as well – he wants the bill to be funded with spending cuts. Without filing cloture, I’d say it will be next to impossible to get the bill to the floor, unless Mitch McConnell recognizes the damage Coburn is doing to Republicans.

However, McConnell is telling everyone who’ll listen to wait ’til next year for even more obstruction, so he may want to gear that up now.

After new START gets ratification today, we’re going to apparently get the first test vote on the 9-11 health care bill. With Tom Coburn committed to blocking or at least delaying the bill, there’s no chance of unanimous consent, but the leadership of both parties is working out some kind of agreement to consider it. The House is prepared to pass the measure as well, but they’re waiting to see what the Senate will do.

Basically, nobody wants to come back the week after Christmas. In the House, a substantial number of members didn’t come back this week. Yesterday, the House passed Senate versions of the COMPETES Act, the food safety bill and the continuing resolution to fund the government, with close to 100 members missing the votes. Schedule something after Christmas and you could have 50 members show up.

So the House wants to finish today. And if they pass the 9-11 bill, they can. I think they’re just waiting to see how long this will take in the Senate, or for them to amend the House version so they can get it back.

Certainly all hands are on deck to try and pressure Republicans. First responders rallied in Washington yesterday trying to get the Senate to act. A group of Oklahoma City first responders who were at the site of the Murrah Federal Building attack in 1995 urged Coburn, the Oklahoman, to relent:

As the first responders to the tragic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, the professional fire fighters of Oklahoma call upon the United States Senate to pass the James A. Zadroga Health and Compensation Act.

The brave men and women who responded to the 9/11 attacks deserve to be protected. An event like 9/11 exposes public safety personnel to high levels of toxins, physiological, and psychological hazards that cause both immediate and long term mental and physical health issues. It has been almost ten years since that tragic day and fire fighters, police officers, and those who worked on the pile remain without adequate health monitoring and care. It is a national disgrace.

“We lived through the horror in Oklahoma City in April 1995, and many of our members responded to Ground Zero during 9/11. Fire fighters are always there for our country, and we need Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe to be there for our FDNY brothers and sisters!

Heck, after getting dressed down by Carolyn Maloney, maybe even the President will engage on this issue rather than having Jon Stewart do it for him.

The goal is to stop Coburn from objecting, and then to pass the bill via unanimous consent (or at least to get an up-or-down vote without time-wasting cloture votes that could delay the bill for a week). Coburn does not appear to be budging, and there’s a policy component to this as well – he wants the bill to be funded with spending cuts. Without filing cloture, I’d say it will be next to impossible to get the bill to the floor, unless Mitch McConnell recognizes the damage Coburn is doing to Republicans.

However, McConnell is telling everyone who’ll listen to wait ’til next year for even more obstruction, so he may want to gear that up now.

UPDATE: Apparently the vote will be a cloture vote, but I don’t remember Reid ever filing cloture on the measure and letting the motion ripen. One moment…

UPDATE II: A Senate leadership aide tells FDL News that no specific time has been scheduled for the cloture vote. It would be a motion to reconsider. The last cloture vote on this bill failed a couple weeks ago, but Harry Reid can bring it up again. What that means is this: they can immediately do a motion to reconsider, on the motion to proceed, and get on the bill. Then they would have to get cloture on the amendment from Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Then they would have to get cloture to end debate. And if they get all that, and a final vote on passage, then the bill would go to the House. And they want to do that all today? That would require a serious amount of goodwill on the part of Republicans.

David Dayen

David Dayen