The $1.1 trillion spending bill and tax-extenders package unveiled Tuesday and early Wednesday morning is the finale to weeks of lobbying and speculation on a host of issues—particularly health care. There are some big winners in the yearend bills, including 9/11 first-responders and survivors, "Cadillac tax" opponents, and possibly Sen. Marco Rubio. Here’s a closer look:
The omnibus funds the program providing health benefits for 9/11 first-responders and survivors sickened by toxic air at the attack site through 2090. Also, it reauthorizes the Victim Compensation Fund for five years.
Renewing the legislation, known as the Zadroga Act, was the center of a massive lobbying effort involving, for one group, at least 22 trips to Washington (with crews of anywhere from 12 to 50 people) and an estimated 600 meetings for John Feal, president and founder of the 9/11 advocacy group FealGood Foundation. It’d been the subject of rallies, press conferences, and a segment on The Daily Show, featuring a powerful advocate for the bill, Jon Stewart.
“We’ve met with some members of the Senate and Congress four, five, six times,” Feal told National Journal after a press conference last week. “Every time we got close, they move the goalpost back on us. Every time we got to the one-yard line, they just kept moving it back, and this time they can’t go nowhere. We’re confident we’re going to get it done.” Feal was right.