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Public Statements

First Responders Bill

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I am delighted the Senate was able to reach an agreement to provide health care for the men and women who helped in the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts after the 9/11 attacks.

In the years since then, as we all know, a number of these brave Americans have become ill. Today represents an important step in making sure they receive the care they need as a result of their extraordinary service. No one has ever questioned whether to provide the care they need. The only question was how to do so.

Like many of my colleagues, I have been concerned that attempts to rush this legislation at the end of the session would prevent us from ensuring the bill was written in a responsible fashion. I still believe this cause and this legislation would have benefited from a bipartisan committee process. But thanks to the hard work of a number of Senators--most notably Senators COBURN and ENZI and their staffs--we have come a long way in improving this bill.

We have made sure that more compensation will go to victims than trial lawyers. It has got improved oversight, so money isn't siphoned away from the people who need it. We put time limits on the legislation so Congress can come back and review what has worked and where improvements can be made. So this is a much better product.

Some have tried to portray this debate as a debate between those who support 9/11 workers and those who don't. This is a gross distortion of the facts. There was never any doubt about supporting the first responders. It was about doing it right.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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