The Senate held off procedural votes on the DREAM Act and a bill that would compensate those who have fallen ill after working at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that toppled the twin towers of the World Trade Center, MSNBC and NBC New York reported.
MSNBC reported Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office confirmed votes on the measures that would allow gays to serve openly in the armed forces and provide a way to citizenship for some illegal immigrants were delayed to allow more time for Democrats to negotiate with Republicans.
The House voted Wednesday to approve the DREAM Act, the Los Angeles Times reported. The vote was 216-198.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the vote on the bill to compensate the Ground Zero workers would be taken up Thursday, NBC New York reported.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who backs repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, said she wouldn't vote for it Wednesday with the tax cut package not yet completed.
"Everyone on the Republican side wants to see the tax package completed first," Collins said. "So I have urged the majority leader to postpone the vote ... which he is threatening to hold tonight so we could get the tax bill considered first.
"Why not take the path that would lead to 60 votes?"
Like "don't ask, don't tell" and the DREAM Act, the $7.4 billion Ground Zero responders bill needs 60 votes to overcome a GOP blockade. Gillibrand said the emergency workers who fall ill or are at risk of getting sick years down the road deserve compensation.
"Our government asked them to help. You must remember the days after 9/11," Gillibrand said. "This country would have done anything to help those who had suffered so much in New York and across this country."
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