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Gillibrand: After START, Don't Stop


New York Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand said on CBS' "Washington Unplugged" Monday that she was hoping for fast movement on ratification of the New Start nuclear arms treaty with Russia - and not just because she favors ratification. Until New Start is settled, the Senate can't move to Gillibrand's Sept. 11 health care bill, which likely will not become law if it doesn't pass in the waning days of the lame duck session.

In the wake of a test vote showing they lacked the 60 votes necessary to end a GOP-led filibuster, Gillibrand and fellow New York Senator Charles Schumer revised the 9/11 health bill in an effort to win over skeptical Republicans, reducing costs from $7.4 billion to $6.2 billion.

Gillibrand told CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes she believes the bill now has enough supporters for the bill to pass, reiterating comments she made on CBS' "The Early Show" Monday morning. Cordes asked Gillibrand what exactly the money would be used for.

"What we now have that will be in place is a fund that pays for the healthcare for these first responders, for these heroes, should they need it, should their insurance run out, should their workman's comp run out, and that's what really makes a difference," responded Gillibrand.

One concern for critics of the revised bill is how it will be determined which illnesses are actually related to working as a first responder - and which are not. Gillibrand said those determinations have already been made.

"So in fact this is a fund that is capped, the number of people who are eligible is determined, they know exactly who worked at Ground Zero, exactly who is eligible, and they've identified 22 diseases that they know are caused by the toxins that were released by the 9/11 towers crashing," she said.

Gillibrand pushed for her colleagues to do what she feels is right and pass the bill.

"Our government told them that the air was safe so they didn't wear any protective gear," she told Cordes. "The least we can do is give them healthcare because of the diseases they've gotten because of the work we've asked them to do."

Watch Monday's Washington Unplugged above, also featuring a congressional wrap-up with Nancy Cordes, CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante and Politico's Shira Toeplitz.