Deal Reached on Health Coverage for 9/11 First Responders

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It appears that one of the most contentious and maligned stumbling blocks of the lame duck session of Congress may have been resolved.

Both the New York Times and National Public Radio are reporting that a deal has been struck in the senate to pass the Zadroga Bill, which provides health coverage to 9/11 First Responders who became sick from toxic fumes and chemicals after their work at Ground Zero.

Though it seems like the bill should have been an easy win, Republicans opposed it and Tom Coburn (R-OK), nicknamed "Dr. No," even threatened a filibuster due to the bill's overall cost, despite criticism from high-ranking Republicans like Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani. But a deal was struck when two New York Democrats, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, agreed to revisions demanded by conservative Republicans.

The changes nearly halve the bill, dropping the benefits from $7.4 billion over eight years to $4.3 billion over five years.

If the deal holds, the bill will go back to the house, where it is predicted to be swiftly passed and then signed by the President.