Last week, Senator John "Maybe Maverick" McCain (R-Arizona) was kind of dismissive to a 9/11 first responder who would really love some Republican support for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Last night, McCain was kind of dismissive about Democrats' efforts to try to give $7.4 billion in benefits to first responders and survivors; when arguing against time limits for discussing the START Treaty, "To have a time agreement after all of the fooling around that we’ve been doing on ‘DREAM’ Act, on New York City … we will not have a time agreement from this side.” Naturally, that set off Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The Caucus has the details:

Mr. Schumer first expressed his admiration for Mr. McCain’s service to his country, a nod to the Arizona senator’s time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“Mr. President, this is not fooling around,” Mr. Schumer declared standing before a huge photo of two rescue workers amid the chaos at ground zero, one of them apparently injured.

“These men and the thousands of others who rushed to the towers on 9/11 and in the days thereafter were not fooling around,” Mr. Schumer continued. “They, just like my colleague from Arizona, were risking their lives. It was like a time of war. The bottom line is that we were attacked and without asking any questions, the police and firefighters, the construction workers and E.M.T. workers, who rushed to the towers risked their lives in a time of war as well. And to call that helping them fooling around is saddening and frustrating, saddening and frustrating.”


McCain denied the 9/11 Health Bill connection, sort of: "I said ‘fooling around with the bill concerning New York’. The majority leader keeps bringing up that and other pieces of legislation for votes which don’t get enough votes. For the senator from New York to somehow interpret that as my [being] critical of the bill itself of course is an incredible stretch of the imagination, and frankly I resent it."

It's believed that this lame duck session is that 9/11 health bill's best chance to pass, since the House (which passed it) goes to the Republicans next year. The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he'll bring it to a vote again; the GOP filibustered it last week, because it wanted its Bush tax cuts.