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House Approves 9/11 Health Coverage Without Immigration Scuffle

A House bill to provide medical treatment to workers who helped in the aftermath of 9/11 passed yesterday without a predicted fight over including illegal immigrants in the legislation.

There was some fear that Republicans would introduce an amendment barring illegal immigrants who worked at Ground Zero from aid under the $7.4 billion proposal. If this happened, moderate Democrats reportedly hoped House leadership would remove the bill from the floor to prevent them from a contentious vote close to the election.

The fear turned out to be baseless: No such an amendment was proposed, and those who opposed the bill argued about finances, not illegal workers. “This legislation as written creates a huge $8.4 billion slush fund…open to abuse, fraud and waste,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said during the debate Wednesday.

The bill passed 268 to 160, with 17 Republicans voting for the measure and 3 Democrats voting against it.

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