Time Running Out for Congress to Act on 9/11 Health Bill

By: CBS News Email
By: CBS News Email

The clock is ticking on Capitol Hill for Congress to pass a $6.2 billion measure to provide help to the men and women who responded to the 9/11 attacks.

For those still living the medical bills are growing.

First responders who got sick at Ground Zero are taking their fight to Washington. Tuesday, they'll rally at the White House and Capitol Hill, urging Congress to pass a bill that would provide billions of dollars for their healthcare.

A previous version of the measure passed the House but failed to get a vote in the Senate this month.

Republican Senator Jon Kyl said on Fox News Sunday that he's skeptical about the bill because it was "a lot of money."

But now that lawmakers have trimmed the final price tag and changed how to pay for it, supporters believe they have the votes to get the job done.

"The men and women who answered the call on or after September 11th, we're absolutely obligated to pass this bill for them," says Representative Peter King of New York.

The House and Senate would both need to approve the revised bill before the new Congress convenes next month or else it's back to the drawing board.

Fourteen thousand first responders are currently living with illnesses they contracted after inhaling the dust at the World Trade Center site.

"I remember him coming home covered in it," remembers Greta Helmke. For her, passage even now comes too late. Her husband, Robert, was a police officer. Her spent months at ground zero after the attacks.

Within 4 years he had full blown colorectal cancer. Within six years... he was dead at the age of 43.

Greta was devastated.

"Especially for such a great man who, up until the end, said to me 'I just want to get better so I can get back to work," says Helmke.

The hope now is Congress will act soon, to help those who helped the country when it needed it most.

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