WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans blocked a bill to cover as much as $7.4 billion in health costs for thousands of volunteers and other workers made ill by toxic dust from the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.
The 57-42 vote along party lines cut off debate three votes short of the 60 needed to bring the bill to the floor under the Senate's procedural rules. Republicans objected that the program would be financed by eliminating a tax break given to foreign corporations with U.S. subsidiaries.
The bill, named for James Zadroga, a New York City police officer who died of respiratory disease after working on recovery operations in the trade center rubble, passed the House in September.
The Senate vote is "a tragic example of partisan politics trumping patriotism," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said by e-mail. He urged the Republicans to reconsider.
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the procedural vote has not killed the bill.
"Republicans asked that the Senate first pass the funding bill and the bill to prevent tax hikes," he said in an e-mail. Democrats "can call a vote on it again after the tax and government-funding bills are complete."
More than 30,000 workers and survivors of the 2001 attacks responded to the attack site while it burned for weeks. Last month, 10,043 settled lawsuits claiming illness and injury from the alleged failure of the city and 140 contractors to adequately protect them. They will participate in a fund of $625 million created by the U.S. government.
Thousands more already have chronic illnesses or are at risk of developing them over the next 10 years, Bloomberg said, citing health officials. The money provided by the bill would be deposited in a fund through 2020.