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Senate passes health bill for 9/11 rescuers

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Senate passes first responder health billA bill to provide medical care for firefighters and other responders to the September 11, 2001 attacks passed the Senate 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 Senate by voice vote and the U.S. House of Representatives was set to pass the measure shortly after the Senate action.

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 struck a deal whittling down the size of the bill to a five-year bill at a cost of $4.3 billion. The bill would cap lawyers' fees at 10 percent and prevent doubling dipping from a recent 9/11 health settlement, a Senate aide said.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill.

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