Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked a motion for unanimous consent on one of the most bipartisan bills on Capitol Hill on Wednesday — funding for a victim compensation program for 9/11 first responders. After Paul’s objection, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) took to the floor to slam her colleague for blocking the motion for unanimous consent.
“It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country,” Paul explained. “We have a 22 trillion dollar debt, we’re adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year, and therefore any new spending […] should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable.”
In response, Gillibrand, shot back, “I am deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders. A bipartisan bill that just earned over 400 votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and has 73 cosponsors in [the Senate].”
She went on to say, “enough of the political games, our 9/11 first responders and the entire nation are watching to see if this body actually cares.”
Here’s the exchange between Paul and Gillibrand:
"I am deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders."
— The Hill (@thehill) July 17, 2019
The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House, with a vote of 402-12, and soon after it was pushed through the lower chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised to bring it to the floor in the Senate.
If passed, the bill would extend funding for care for first responders until 2092. For years, the 9/11 first responders — many of who are suffering from diseases as a result of their time in the rubble of the World Trade Center — have been forced to rely on temporary spending measures approved on Capitol Hill.
When the bill passed in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi championed it, saying, “on September 11th and its aftermath, our brave first responders were there for us. We must always be there for them.” The Senate is still expected to pass the bill before the August recess.