9/11 health bill finally gets Senate panel hearing; no date set yet


BY Michael Mcauliff
Thursday, May 27th 2010, 4:00 AM

WASHINGTON - A Senate committee finally agreed Wednesday to give the 9/11 health bill a hearing.

A spokeswoman for Senate Health Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said no date was set.

But it would mark the first time the measure to care for ailing Sept. 11 responders advanced that far in the Senate. The bill has passed two committees in the House and could be voted on there before July 4.

"At my urging, Chairman Harkin has agreed to hold a hearing," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

"My colleagues in the House have made tremendous progress on this critical legislation; now we need action in the Senate," she added.

Politics could add urgency to the Senate effort. The bill passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday with just two Republican votes.

If the GOP picks up seats in Congress in the fall as expected, passing the $11 billion measure would likely be more difficult next year.