Of course, we started the day with a loud bang (and John McCain’s still complaining about it) as President Obama signed the law repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Now, that’s the holiday spirit!
But there are still a few bills dangling as the GOP Senators keep complaining they have to work! We should get some resolution today on the START Treaty, which made it through a cloture vote yesterday with the 67 votes needed for ratification of a treaty!
The big mystery at this hour is the fate of the 9-11 First Responders Health Care bill. The truly heinous Senator from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn (who happens to be a doctor by the way– doesn’t he remember his hipocratic oath? Perhaps he took the hypocrite’s oath instead) had been blocking it, claiming there were no committee hearings on it (YES,there were. He was on the HELP committee who debated it. He just chose not to show up for it!), and that the cost is too high (for those selfless individuals who put their own safety at risk to help others in need – look in the mirror, you fool!).
Well, according to Greg Sargent at the Plum Line blog at the Washington Post, a compromise has been reached:
Here are the details of the deal, as provided by a Senate aide:
*Reduction in Costs. This agreement saved taxpayers $6.2 billion from the substitute amendment and $7.5 billion from the House-passed bill. In the deal, costs are reduced to $4.2 billion in the 10 year window and eliminated outside the 10-year window. Of that amount, $1.5 billion will go to health benefits, while $2.7 billion will go to compensation.
* Permanently Close the Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) after 5 years. The original bill kept the VCF open through 2031, making it extremely susceptible to waste, fraud and abuse and incurring significant long-term costs. The fund is now open only through 2016 and has language to expressly say that it is permanently closed at after 5 years.
*Limitations on Attorneys Fees. Places a hard cap for attorneys’ fees at 10 percent of the total award and allows the Special Master to reduce attorneys fees