When Jon Stewart stops cracking jokes, you know things are serious.  Last week, Stewart broke from his standard format to speak with 9/11 first responders who are dying because they either don’t have health care or can’t keep up with the costs.

Congress could step up and pass legislation that would provide compensation to Ground Zero workers, but things are being held up by a petty and absent Republican Party.  That’s right, when they “filibustered” a bill to give 9/11 responders health care, the GOP didn’t even show up to explain why they were blocking a bill to help 9/11 heroes.

Worse for our state, Senator Mike Johanns was protecting the GOP line while 16 firefighters from Nebraska need this bill to pass.  These 16 firefighters went to Ground Zero, along with 44 other Lincoln firefighters, to help their fellow Americans.  Senator Johanns is thanking these heroes by turning his back on each of them and their families.

This… this is the anti-thesis of bold.  This is exponentially beyond gutless, cowardly and weak.  It is sickening to watch the party that turned 9/11 into a war cry and used it as a excuse for all manner of sins, turn their back on the very heroes who sifted through the rubble when the Twin Towers fell.

Any reason to block health care to 9/11 responders would have to be weighty, right?  And leave it to the GOP leadership to find it: keeping tax cut loopholes open for foreign companies.  It just shows where the Republican party’s priorities really are, and it’s a sight that makes our stomachs turn.

Omaha World Herald’s Joe Morton lists the reasons why Nebraska Republican members of Congress are opposing the 9/11 bill.  Here is what he said Senator Johanns’ reasons were:

Johanns said his vote against consideration of the bill was part of the Senate Republicans’ position that Congress must deal with the expiring Bush tax cuts before moving on to other legislation. He said he hasn’t had the opportunity to delve into the actual merits, costs and other implications of the bill.

Well, the Bush Tax cuts are all wrapped up now.  Does this mean Senator Johanns will now take the time to “delve into the actual merits” of 9/11 heroes’ health issues?  The bill was first introduced in June — is seven months not enough time to “delve into the merits of the bill”?

Senator Johanns has the benefit of one of the best health insurance programs in the nation, and let’s remember it is provided, as is his salary, by taxpayers.  When Senator Johanns was sick, he was able to get the best treatment fast.  Do the 9/11 heroes not deserve that same access to quality care?

This bill is a no-brainer.  As New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said this morning, we need to “stand by those who stood by America in it’s hour of greatest need.”  This is about our nation’s priorities, and 9/11 responders should be at the top of everyone’s list.


Email, tweet and/or call Senator Johanns’ office at (202) 224-4224.  Tell him to stand by our country’s heroes.

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