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9/11 responders and survivors demand free health care

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: Advocates for 9/11 first responders lobbied on Capitol Hill Wednesday
  • The legislation would provide free health care to some affected by 9/11 attacks
  • The bill did not pass in July due to a procedural debate
  • The measure would cost $7.4 billion

Washington (CNN) -- A group of responders and survivors of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks headed to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to urge Congress to pass legislation that will provide them with free health care.

The House of Representatives may vote on the bill later this month. The $7.4 billion measure failed to pass the House in July after becoming the subject of a heated procedural dispute.

The debate prompted one Democrat, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, to angrily accuse Republicans of "wrapping their arms around [other] Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes."

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, in turn called the bill an "irresponsible overreach" that "does not contain the necessary protections to safeguard taxpayer dollars from abuse, waste and fraud."

"I think this is another example of the Democrats' insatiable appetite for the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars," he said.

U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, both New York Democrats, have said they plan to bring the proposal back as early as next week for another vote.

The James Zadroga 9/11 health bill -- named after a deceased New York Police Department detective -- seeks to provide free medical coverage for responders and survivors who were exposed to toxins after the attacks.

A coroner linked Zadroga's death to respiratory failure caused by his work in the toxic plume at ground zero.

He was 34.