Last night, Congress reached agreement on the House omnibus bill, which will pass later this week. According to the Washington Post, this "year-end spending and tax deal that would prevent a government shutdown and extend a series of tax breaks that benefit businesses and individuals." It will also include a renewal of the Zadroga Act, which offers healthcare funding and compensation for 9/11 first responders and their families. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "This agreement is incredible news for our 9/11 heroes and their families, and it is a testament to the extraordinary power that Americans can have when they raise their voice and demand action."
While plenty of Republicans have jumped on the 9/11 bandwagon to call for more defense spending, they have been traditionally reluctant to help out the heroes of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. A few months ago, the Republican-controlled Congress failed to renew the act, prompting first responders, their families, local elected officials and Jon Stewart to hold rallies to shame them into action. Stewart also appeared on The Daily Show and The Late Show to draw more public awareness about the Republican lawmakers, aka the #WorstResponders.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) December 8, 2015
The renewal is essentially permanent, as it's in effect for 75 years.
Gillibrand, who was the lead sponsor of the 9/11 health act in the Senate, also said, "Our 9/11 first responders never should have been forced to travel to Washington and walk the halls of Congress—legislation this important shouldn’t have needed so much convincing—but after dozens of trips, they finally got the job done and convinced Congress to fulfill its moral obligation to our 9/11 heroes. I’m proud to represent them, and I’m grateful for their efforts."
Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement as well: "Last night, Congress finally made clear: we will be there for our 9/11 heroes, just as they've been there for us. This bill should give over 72,000 first responders and survivors in New York City and around the country long-overdue peace of mind, knowing that they will have access to the vital health care and support they need."
And if you were wondering if it was business as usual in Congress, the NY Times can depressingly report that it is:
Legislative drafters, racing a midnight deadline, met the time limit for issuing the tax package but apparently missed it for the spending bill. That could push back a vote on the House floor by one day, until Friday.
The late-hour tension emphasized the deep disagreements over an array of policy provisions that have left weeks of negotiations tinged with acrimony. Since the Republicans took back control of the House in 2011, a majority in the party has routinely opposed compromise budget and spending measures, forcing party leaders to rely on Democrats for votes to clear the bills. All signs indicate that the same dynamic is playing out now.
But the House Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, has voiced angry opposition to the huge package of tax breaks, saying it would unfairly benefit big business. And even Tuesday night, some Democrats in the House leadership said Ms. Pelosi was on the verge of turning against the omnibus spending measure because of her opposition to a Republican provision that would lift the 40-year ban on exports of crude oil from the United States.