EXCLUSIVE: Senate Strikes Deal on 9/11 First Responders Bill


The compromise mandates the closing of the Victims Compensation Fund within five years, limits fees paid out to attorneys, and closes loopholes that allow people to re-file claims that have previously been rejected by the Fund, a source told ABC News.

Ken Feinberg has been floated as a possible special master for the Fund, the source said.

In the past few days Coburn's threats to try to block Senate passage of the bill this year infuriated 9/11 first responders and lawmakers alike.

"Where's his heart?" asked John Feal, founder of the FealGood foundation, a non-profit organization pushing for the bill's passage. "Because it's not in the right place. These men and women behind me have gone eight Christmases suffering without any help from the federal government, so I question his heart."

"I believe we have the votes to prevail," said Schumer at a press conference on Tuesday. "The only thing standing in our way is people who will try to run out the clock."

"That is not fair, not right, and that flies in the face of America," he said.

"Enough enough enough with the delays!" he roared.

Now the bill appears set to pass the Senate this afternoon after the chamber ratifies the START nuclear treaty with Russia. The 9/11 bill would then need to be passed by the House, but that is expected to occur later this evening. If that happens, Congress could leave town for the Christmas break late Wednesday.

"We are on the verge of a Christmas miracle," Gillibrand told reporters a few days ago.

Now that miracle appears set to become reality.

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