The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" wasn't the only thing to go down in flames in the Senate today. A bill to fund health care for ailing 9/11 first responders was blocked by Republicans who pledged to do nothing until the chamber votes on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Much as was the case with the DADT repeal, supporters of the measure fell three votes short of the 60 needed to proceed to a debate and vote on the bill, which would have provided roughly $7.4 billion for health care for 9/11 responders.
Predictably, perhaps, Democrats appeared thunderstruck over the Republicans' decision to follow through on their threat.
"We are gravely disappointed," New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a sponsor of the bill, told reporters. "I find [it] to be morally reprehensible." Newly elected Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a co-sponsor of the bill, added that "if patriotism means anything, if respect for the victims of 9/11 means anything, it should mean this. This Senate should be able to come together across this shocking partisan divide and support a bill such as this." New York's other senator, Charles E. Schumer, labeled it simply, "a sad day for America."
(Photo of Gillibrand and Schumer: AP/Harry Hamburg)