House lawmakers are expected to vote Wednesday on legislation providing health coverage to rescue workers who responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
Lower-chamber lawmakers had hoped to adjourn Tuesday for the year, after voting on the 9/11 bill and legislation funding the federal government through March 4. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday afternoon the 9/11 bill will likely require members to remain in Washington for an extra day.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Hoyer the Senate is expected to finish the bill between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Senate proponents of the bill have tweaked a House version — which passed in September — to win the support of some Republicans. The changes mean that the House must pass the bill again before it can go to the president's desk.
Standing against the bill has been Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who says the current version is flawed and requires additional changes — changes he said should be done next year.
"We're going to have to come back and fix it," Coburn told Fox News on Tuesday, "and we're going to waste a whole bunch more money and not fix the real problem, which is taking care of those people who are so desperately dependent on it."
Supporters of the legislation are concerned that, with Republicans poised to take control of the House next year, delaying the proposal would seal its doom.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday urged critics — particularly Coburn — to allow a Senate vote this week.
"I would plead with my colleague from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn. He's a friend. He's a good man. He is very meticulous about legislation. Please don't stop this bill," Schumer told reporters on a phone call. "We all know what it is and what it stands for, and we all know, if it doesn't happen now, it is very unlikely to ever happen again."