After years and years, the House of Representatives was finally able to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Heath and Compensation Act in September. But now the worry is that the Senate will not have enough votes to pass the bill, which sets aside $7.4 billion for medical treatment and compensation to those sickened by the toxic conditions at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center attacks. One man, a tow truck driver who removed damaged FDNY vehicles from the wreckage and lost 30% of his lung capacity, tells the Daily News that Senator John McCain basically snubbed him.

Various 9/11 first responders and Ground Zero workers have been in D.C. to rally support for the bill. T.J. Gilmartin, 50, says that while most Senators he spoke to were receptive—"The guys from Alabama [Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby] - they were gentlemen... they didn't agree with me on everything, but they were real gentlemen... The guy from North Carolina, [Sen. Richard] Burr, was another one. He sat with me and talked like a gentleman"—the 2008 Republican presidential candidate was more difficult to track down.

Gilmartin, who called McCain a "real hero, not like us. We're just little half heroes," says he spotted the Senator in a hallway and couldn't resist the opportunity:

"I stepped in front of him, and I was very respectful. I told him who I was and I asked for his help on the Zadroga bill.

"It lasted maybe 10 or 15 seconds.

"He said 'Thank you for your service.'

"And 'I can't help you.'

"Then, bang, he stepped around me and onto the elevator.

"If his eyes were daggers, I'd be dead. They'd all be in my heart.

"John McCain was pathetic. I would have thought more of him."


McCain's office told the News that he was not annoyed at Gilmartin but he was busy and on his way to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell hearings, where he was definitely annoyed (video; McCain starts at about 4:15).

The supporters of the bill believe they need one more vote for it to pass.