For the past decade, 9/11 has been invoked time and time again by the Republicans whenever they wished to start a war, restrict liberty, expand interrogation techniques or silence critics. As such, you would think that they would have voted in favor of a bill intended to provide treatment and compensation to those harmed by that attack.
However, the bill was defeated with 256 (12 Republicans) votes for it and 159 (155 Republicans) against. That is not a typo: the vote was 256 to 159. The reason it did not pass was because the Democrats had decided to use a procedure that required much more than a simple majority. More on this later.
One reason for the Republican opposition was the view that the $7.4 program would be an “entitlement program.”
While it seems likely that some of the money will be misused (after all, 95% of the money sent to rebuild Iraq is unaccounted for), providing medical support and compensation for those harmed in the 9/11 attack does not seem to be mere entitlement. After all, these people are victims of an enemy attack. If we are willing to dump billions into the war on terror to protect Americans from harm, it seems inconsistent to be unwilling to spend money to protect Americans who were harmed by this attack. Of course, the Republican view seems to often be that we can only protect Americans by going to war, granting lucrative contracts to private contractors, setting up secret prisons and so on. Providing health care or support t0 those who have been directly impacted by terror seems to be out of the question.
However, the Republicans do not bear all the blame for what occurred. As noted above, the Democrats decided to not go with a simple majority vote (which would have resulted in the bill passing). Apparently, the Democrats were worried that the Republicans would tag on amendments that would “embarrass” the Democrats in the upcoming elections. For example, it has been claimed that they intended to amend the bill so that illegal immigrants injured in 9/11 would not be eligible for the benefits provided by the bill.
Of course, this raises a question about blame. The Republicans can claim that the Democrats were responsible because they decided to go with the alternative procedure out of selfishness. If the Democrats had only loved America enough to go with a majority vote, then the bill would have passed. Of course, the Democrats can point out that the Republicans seemed to be intent on using the bill for their own selfish purposes-that is, so they could tag on amendments that would hurt the Democrats.
The end result is that both parties come across as rather bad. After all, both of them are playing political games with the victims of 9/11, which seems to be a rather awful thing to do.
Unfortunately, these people have the system almost completely locked up: come election day we mainly just have a choice between scoundrels.