This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation establishing a health program for 9/11 rescue workers who became ill as a result of their rescue efforts following the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) urged support for the bill: “On 9/11, roughly 3,000 people lost their lives, but thousands and thousands lost their health because they rushed in to save others. To date, the Federal Government has identified more than 20,000 individuals who have health problems as a direct result of the attacks. Caring for those who are suffering is a national responsibility. Every single State, 428 of the 435 congressional districts have someone enrolled in the Federal World Trade Center Health Registry because they were near Ground Zero or worked at Ground Zero.”
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) criticized the Democratic majority for bringing up the bill under suspension of the rules, which prohibits amendments. He argued that Democrats used this process in order to avoid voting on a Republican amendment that would have prohibited the bill’s funds from being used by illegal immigrants. King characterized the process as “a cruel hoax and a charade.” He also said: “Everyone also knows that this bill would pass with a clear majority if the Democrat leadership would allow it to come to the floor under the regular procedures of the House. The reason H.R. 847 is not being brought up under regular order is because the majority party is petrified of having its members face a potential vote on illegal immigration. You can blame it on the Republicans…but the reality is you could pass this bill if you wanted to. You are in control. You have the power. You have the responsibility.”
While a majority of members voted in favor of the bill, the measure failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote required for passage under suspension of the rules. Thus, the bill was rejected. The vote on the bill was 255-159. 243 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted “yea.” 155 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected legislation establishing a health program for 9/11 rescue workers who became ill as a result of their rescue efforts following the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Democratic leaders, however, could bring up the bill again under a different procedure requiring only a simple majority vote for passage.