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9-11 First Responders Act

Post # 72, Bob McKnight's Florida Political Commentary

How Could Any American Hold up This Act?

Almost daily many of us through up our hands saying, "How can that happen today in America?" Even though I have served in public office and somewhat understand the political process, I find myself doing the same thing.

But surprisingly, often--not always--there are explanations. Let's take the recent dispute over re-funding the 9-11 First Responders Health and Compensation Act. Originally it was funded at $4.2 Billion, but at the current rate of distribution will soon require refunding at some level.

Popular TV Star Jon Stewart took up the cause of the First Responders when word got out that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was holding the bill up from consideration. The Majority Leader sets the Calendar in the Senate. Stewart lashed at McConnell for his insensitivity, which was apparent. But, looking more closely most of the First Responders were members of very active political Labor Unions, and Republicans do not support Union issues. Also, it is not uncommon for Republicans and Democrats to hold up legislation to hold as hostage for later trading if there is strong interest in the legislation. McConnell knew the Democrats want to help their supporters in the Labor Unions. McConnell just never saw Stewart joining the First Responders' Funding Act.

On the same Bill, it happened again, this time when the bill was heard in the Senate. It was reported that Senator Rand Paul was now holding the bill up as an individual Senator. Again, Stewart joined the fight and lashed out at Senator Paul. It turns out Senator Paul noticed there was no appropriation in the Bill, required under Senate Rules, and asked that the Appropriation be provided before the Bill could be heard. Not an unreasonable request as long as the Bill is not held up.

As a country, we are all wrung out with this fighting and meanness. We need to pause and take a deep breath. Real leaders of both parties need to step forward and provide the kind of unifying leadership our country so badly needs now.


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