Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday blocked fast-track approval of a bipartisan bill that would ensure a victims' compensation fund related to the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money, the AP reports. Paul objected to a request by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, to approve the bill by unanimous consent. Paul, R-Ky., questioned the bill's 70-year time frame and said any new spending should be offset by corresponding cuts. The government already faces a $22 trillion debt, a figure that grows every year, Paul said. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the 9/11 bill would result in about $10.2 billion in additional compensation payments over 10 years, including more than $4 billion for claims already filed.
Gillibrand said 9/11 first responders and their families have had "enough of political games." The legislation has 74 Senate co-sponsors, including Gillibrand, and easily passed the House last week. The bill would extend though 2092 a victims compensation fund created after the 2001 terrorist attacks, essentially making it permanent. The $7.4 billion fund is rapidly being depleted, and administrators recently cut benefit payments by up to 70%. "Our 9/11 first responders and the entire nation are watching to see if this body actually cares ... about the men and women who answered the call of duty" after the attacks, Gillibrand said. She and Sen. Chuck Schumer urged Mitch McConnell to bring up the bill as soon as Thursday. He has agreed to do it before August recess.
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