James Zadroga holds an oxygen tank in one hand and his daughter (Family photo)

After rejecting it in July, the House passed a bill to provide up to $7.4 billion to workers sickened during cleanup of World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The bill would provide free health care and compensation to 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who fell ill after working in the trade center ruins.

The 268-160 vote on Wednesday came after passionate floor debate. Democratic supporters said they were standing up for sick Sept. 11 heroes. Republican critics branded the bill as yet another big-government entitlement program that would boost taxes and kill jobs.

“You want to call it an entitlement bill, ok,” said Democrat Anthony Weiner. “They are entitled. They are entitled to our care, they are entitled to our respect, they are entitled to the health care that they need.”

The bill still must pass the Senate and that’s unlikely anytime soon, Fuss reports, report CBS Radio News correspondent Bob Fuss.

The legislation is named for James Zadroga, a police detective who died at age 34. His supporters say he died from respiratory disease contracted at ground zero, but New York City’s medical examiner said Zadroga’s lung condition was caused by prescription drug abuse.

In July, the bill failed to win the two-thirds majority that was needed under the procedure that Democratic leaders used to bring up the bill to block potential amendments. The bill fell short, 255-159. The vote was largely along party lines, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats supporting the measure.

The July vote sparked an angry exchange between Weiner and Republican Peter King.

During floor debate before the vote, Weiner criticized King, a Long Island Republican.

“The gentleman is providing cover for his colleagues rather than doing the right thing,” bellowed Weiner, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens. “Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of heroes. It’s a shame, a shame.”

King, a key backer of the bill, had accused Democrats earlier of staging a “charade.”

The harsh words were sparked by the decision by Democratic leaders to use the procedure that required the two-thirds majority vote.

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