I know I have written about this before, but I am amazed that Representative Rehberg is still trying to justify his shameful vote against providing health resources for 9/11 first responders. In the Clark Fork Chronicle, he writes:
This legislation was never about doing what’s best for 9/11 First Responders, whose needs were already being met. It was about then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi using the last breath of her majority to force Republicans to vote against a bill they titled the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act so that people like Mr. Bergren could write letters criticizing those of us who opposed this legislation. It was a calculated partisan trick, which worked because the title of a bill doesn’t have to have anything to do with the actual legislation it contains.
There’s really no polite way to put this. Rehberg’s lying. Again.
As the New York Daily News said, passing the bill was a moral obligation for the government:
Senators who back the bill must make reluctant colleagues see that the chronic sicknesses that afflict Trade Center rescue and recovery workers are a national crisis, the Zadroga bill no less than the fulfillment of a moral obligation by the government to care for people injured in an act of war.
As Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said, voting against the bill was both a shame and disgrace:
“Who’s going to hold these people’s feet to the fire? We’re able to put a 52 story building so far down there at Ground Zero, we’re able to pay for tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them and it’s not going to stimulate the economy. But we can’t give health care to Ground Zero first responders who ran right into the fire? Went down there to save people? Do people know what this city was like that day? People were walking over bridges, they were covered in ash, they were running for their lives, they were crying, their family members were dead. And these people ran to Ground Zero to save people’s lives. And we’re not going to even give them medicine for the illnesses they got down there? It’s disgusting, it’s a national disgrace, it’s a shame and everybody who voted against should have to stand up and account for himself or herself.”
As for the claim that the bill was a “partisan trick,” had Representative Rehberg been in the Senate last year, the vote for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act would have been 99-1, with the only ‘nay’ vote coming from a single drunken Senator from Billings. You know, the one who sues firefighters for failing to protect his scrub brush.
I’d prefer that Montana be known for statesmen who put the interests of the nation and its citizens, especially the people who risk their lives protecting the rest of us, ahead of cheap political tricks. When Tom Coburn and Bernie Sanders can both support a bill, I’d say it’s anything but partisan. Odds are, it’s what is right.
Representative Rehberg can try to explain away this shameful vote all he wants. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong for Montana now.