Tag Archives: Congress

Health bill for 9/11 responders clears Congress


(Reuters) – Legislation to provide medical care for firefighters and other responders to the September 11, 2001 attacks passed the Congress on Wednesday after backers struck a deal to end a Senate Republican blockade of the measure.

The so-called James Zadroga 9/11 health bill was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 206-60 after it cleared the U.S. Senate by voice vote.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The bill would provide medical treatment for emergency responders sickened by toxic dust inhaled at the World Trade Center site in New York in the days following the attack. Republicans had balked at the initial $7.4 billion cost of the 10-year bill, which had been approved by the House, and blocked Senate passage.

Backers early on Wednesday struck a deal whittling down the size of the bill to a five-year bill at a cost of $4.3 billion. The Senate quickly approved it without debate and the House .

“We didn’t get everything we wanted, but always remember legislation is the art of compromise. This is $4.3 billion better than nothing,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

“This is the day we’ve all been working toward and waiting for. Our Christmas miracle has arrived,” said New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Lawmakers had been working nine years to win congressional approval of the measure, she said.

The bill provides for a health program for responders sickened by the toxic debris and establishes a victim compensation fund. Victims have five years to file claims.

EXCISE TAX

The cost is paid for by an excise tax on government purchases from companies in countries that are not part of the World Trade Organization procurement arrangements. The U.S. business community had objected to that provision.  The money collected will also help reduce the deficit by $450 million over 10 years, according to estimates. Republican opponents had taken considerable heat from firefighters and other emergency workers as well as Democrats and conservative media outlets for blocking the bill.

“Some have tried to portray this debate as a debate between those who support 9/11 workers and those who don’t,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. “This is a gross distortion of the facts. There was never any doubt about supporting the first responders. It was about doing it right.” It is one of the final pieces of legislation to clear the Congress before it was expected to adjourn later on Wednesday. A new Congress is seated in January and Republicans will take control of the House. Backers would have had to start the legislative process all over if they had failed to push the measure through the current Congress.

Thousands of firefighters, police and other rescue and cleanup workers have experienced respiratory problems and other illnesses from working at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of the attack on the twin towers…continue reading

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September 2010 saw 58,000 teachers loose their jobs.


PressTV Sat Oct 9, 2010 7:26PM

The US government has laid off nearly 58,000 teachers and education workers in September despite a USD 26 billion federal aid package passed by Congress. The layoffs occurred even though USD 10 billion of the package was specifically allotted to prevent job losses from teachers, counselors, classroom aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and others, The Huffington Post reported on Saturday.

Some economists believe that it could have been much worse without the aid. Congress had held a special session in August to pass the EduJobs bill, in which it was argued that the bill would save the jobs of more than 300,000 workers by helping state governments close their deficits, read an article by The Washington Post.

However, with the announcement of the massive layoffs, school unions and advocates believe that local and state governments have not done enough to prevent the job losses. Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute said, “What the payroll numbers show is unambiguous: teachers were cut — a lot of them.” “States should have gotten more fiscal relief to keep this from happening,” she added.


GOP Well Positioned Among Likely Midterm Voters


GOP Well Positioned Among Likely Midterm Voters

Voting preferences remain close among registered voters

by Frank Newport, Jeffrey M. Jones, and Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ — Gallup’s generic ballot for Congress among registered voters currently shows Republicans with 46% of the vote and Democrats with 43%, similar to the 46% to 46% tie reported a week ago. However, in Gallup’s first estimates among likely voters, based on polling from Sept. 23-Oct. 3, Republicans have a double-digit advantage under two separate turnout scenarios.

Vote Preferences in 2010 Congressional Elections, Various Turnout Scenarios

These initial estimates are based on interviews with more than 3,000 national adults, including more than 2,700 registered voters, and more than 1,800 adults who demonstrate a high probability of voting this fall, based on their answers to Gallup’s standard likely voter questions that probe current voting intentions and past voting behavior.

Among registered voters interviewed over this period, the parties continue to have rough parity on Gallup’s generic ballot for Congress, as they have since early September. If all voters turned out at this point, the national vote would be close, with Republicans having the slight edge.

Vote Preferences in 2010 Congressional Elections, Based on Registered Voters, March-October 2010

However, not all voters will turn out. For this reason, Gallup identifies the subsample of registered voters most likely to vote in November, employing methods first used in the 1950 midterm elections. These estimates are based on respondents’ answers to seven separate turnout questions. The results are used to assign a “likelihood to vote” score to each registered voter and, in turn, to create hypothetical models of the electorate based on various turnout scenarios.

For this initial estimate of those most likely to vote, Gallup has modeled a lower turnout estimate (40%, typical for recent midterm elections) and a higher turnout estimate. In both cases, the Republican share of the vote is above 50% and the Democratic share is 40% or less, underscoring the strong position in which the GOP would find itself were the election held today.

Gallup has found Republicans, compared with Democrats, expressing higher levels of enthusiasm about voting and more thought given to the elections throughout 2010. It follows that models in which voting is restricted to those most likely to vote would show Republicans doing disproportionately well.

Gallup’s historical election trends suggest that the race often tightens in the final month of the campaign. In September and October 1994, 2002, and 2006, Gallup’s likely voter estimates showed larger margins for the leading party than what the final estimate showed (with the final poll in 2002 moving from a slight Democratic advantage to a Republican lead in the final poll). At this point, four weeks remain until Election Day, and given the already-high levels of Republican enthusiasm, it is possible that Democrats could have relatively greater gains among likely voters over the next month. This history suggests that the likely voter model results at this point should be viewed as describing the current state of affairs, but not as predictive of the final party vote shares on Nov. 2.

Within both likely voter pools, Republicans are highly likely to vote for the Republican candidate, and Democrats for the Democratic candidate. Independents in both likely voter models skew strongly toward the Republican candidate. Gallup has found independent registered voters consistently preferring Republican candidates throughout the campaign.

Across both turnout scenarios, the overall vote results reflect the fact that Republicans become a larger part of the sample as turnout shrinks.Party Composition Based on Turnout Groups, 2010 Midterm Congressional Elections

Based on statistical modeling of the historical relationship between the national vote and seats, any situation in which the Democrats have less than about 47% of the actual two-party national vote for Congress (i.e., 53% voting for the Republicans and 47% for the Democrats among those voting for one of the two parties) would strongly predict that Republicans would win enough seats to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. If there is a widely disproportionate skew in turnout toward Republican voters and their national vote lead ends up being in the double digits, the Republican gains would be very substantial.

Gallup will continue to update both trends in registered-voter voting intentions and the hypothetical results of various likely voter models between now and Election Day. Gallup’s final likely voter estimates have historically been very close to the final national vote.

Explore more Gallup data relating to the upcoming congressional midterm elections, including Gallup’s complete generic ballot trend since 1950, in our Election 2010 Key Indicators interactive.

Learn more about Gallup’s likely voter models for the 2010 midterm congressional elections.

Survey MethodsResults for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 23-26 and Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2010, with a random sample of 3,037 national adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 2,764 registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 1,882 likely voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents per 1,000 respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.