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Christmas Miracle': Deal Reached on 9/11 Responders Health Bill

"a fair balance"

WASHINGTON (The Blaze/AP) -- Republican and Democratic senators have reached a deal on a scaled-down bill to help 9/11 first responders who became sick from having worked in the dust of the World Trade Center, a move one senator called a "Christmas miracle."

The Hill says the deal was struck between one the bill's major sponsors, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and one of its major detractors, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

On Wednesday, Coburn touted the compromise. “I’m pleased the sponsors of this bill agreed to lower costs dramatically, offset the bill, sunset key provisions and take steps to prevent fraud,” he said in a statement.

“Every American recognizes the heroism of the 9/11 first responders, but it is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generations of opportunity,” he added. “I’m pleased this agreement strikes a fair balance and improves the bill the majority attempted to rush through at the last minute."

“The Christmas Miracle we’ve been looking for has arrived," Schumer said in a statement. "Over the last 24 hours, our Republican colleagues have negotiated in good faith to forge a workable final package that will protect the health of the men and women who selflessly answered our nation’s call in her hour of greatest need.”

“We thank our Republican friends for coming together to fulfill America’s moral obligation to the heroes of 9/11,” he added.

Congressional aides close to the negotiations tell The Associated Press that the deal calls for providing up to $4 billion in health care and economic aid over five years to first responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.

The measure is about $2 billion less than the bill proposed earlier this week by Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Both the Senate and the House were expected to vote on the measure later Wednesday. The Senate is expected to adjourn shortly thereafter.

UPDATE:

The bill has officially passed.

One last thing…
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