Ground Zero workers to lobby Capitol Hill again for health benefits

Ground Zero first responders will make a return visit to Washington on Tuesday to build support for a bill that will provide them with health benefits and compensation for illnesses suffered in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

First-responders will plead their case in the Capital Visitors Center at noon Tuesday in what may be their final attempt to sway Republican lawmakers to assist workers who fell ill working at the Ground Zero site in New York City.

Senate Democrats are pushing to hold another vote before the end of the lame-duck session, but prospects are uncertain because Senate Republicans already rejected a cloture vote and it's still unknown if Democrats can secure a handful of Republican votes for passage.

Over the weekend, in an attempt to gain Republican support, Senate Democrats cut the bill’s cost from $7.4 billion to $6.2 billion and changed the funding mechanism. The new bill will shave $108 million from the deficit through 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office score released Monday.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was confident Monday morning that Republicans will support the new bill.

“We now have the votes, we’ve made some modifications that some of our Republican colleagues requested and if no one does undue delay, just stands up and delays and delays and delays, we will get this done,” Schumer said on “Good Morning America” on Monday.

However, all it takes is one senator to hold up the bill, and the clock may be running out. Monday night, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told The Hill that the Senate must work quickly to send the bill to the House because Democratic leaders do not want to call back lawmakers after Christmas.