Coburn on 9/11 bill: 'We can do this next year, and we should'

The Senate should wait until next year to pass legislation funding healthcare for 9/11 first-responders, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Tuesday.

Coburn is expected to take strides to hold up or block legislation to assist recovery workers who flooded Ground Zero in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, some of whom are now suffering health problems as a result.

"We can do this next year, and we should," Coburn said on Fox News.

The Oklahoma conservative's concerns lie in the fact that the bill before the Senate — being pushed by members of New York's congressional delegation — hasn't been vetted in hearings or testimony, he said.

"I want to spend whatever we need to spend to take care of the people who sacrificed for us and put themselves at risk," Coburn said. "This bill hasn't even been through a committee. We haven't had the debate in our committee on this bill to know if it is the best thing to do."

Democrats have pushed the bill as one of their final priorities during the lame-duck Congress. Even a Republican icon, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has pressed GOP lawmakers to approve the legislation.

"This is a bill that's been drawn up and forced through Congress at the end of the year, on a basis to solve a problem that we didn't have the time to solve, and we didn't get done," Coburn said. "So what we're going to do is we're going to pass a bill — maybe, doubtful — and then we're going have to come back and fix it. And we're going to waste a whole bunch more money, and not fix the real problem, which is taking care of people who are so desperately dependent on us."