US Senate approves health benefits for 9/11 responders

The bill provides more than $4 billion over five years to police, firefighters, clean-up crews and local residents suffering illnesses from the toxic dust and debris that rose up when the World Trade Center's twin towers collapsed nearly 10 years ago in New York.

The legislation was to be passed later Wednesday by the House of Representatives and sent to President Barack Obama's desk for signature. The approval by both chambers of Congress would come on the last day before lawmakers head home for a holiday recess.
The health funding has long been championed by New York lawmakers who insisted the federal government had a responsibility to help address the ongoing effects of the worst terrorist attack on US soil.

The Senate approved the benefits package by unanimous consent after a deal was reached with some skeptical Republicans, who opposed an earlier price tag of more than $6 billion.

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