Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coburn May Block Ground Zero Health Care Bill

New York Democrats hoping for quick action on a bill to give health care compensation to Ground Zero workers are about to run into Tom Coburn.

The Oklahoma Republican and physician -- known in the Senate as "Dr. No" for his penchant in blocking bills -- told POLITICO Monday night he wouldn't allow the bill to move quickly, saying he has problems with parts of the bill and the process Democrats are employing.

Other Republicans like Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said he had concerns with the measure and said it should instead move through the committee process.

"I'm not trying to fight it, I'm trying to get it right," Enzi said. "There are 30 things that ought to be changed real quick in committee but very difficult on the floor. To finish a bill at this point of time, we're not going to be able to amend it."

The bill - offered by New York Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer - would give compensation to first responders who fell ill from the toxic dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

The Democrats hope to pass the revised bill this week, which they say has been thoroughly reviewed and which they say has the votes to pass. But with the window closing on the 111th Congress, opponents can throw any number of procedural hurdles to stall debate in the Senate - and potentially kill the bill over any of their objections.

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