WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday blocked a bipartisan bill that would ensure a victims’ compensation fund related to the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money.
Paul objected to a request by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to approve the bill by unanimous consent, which would fast-track approval.
Paul, R-Ky., questioned the bill’s 70-year time frame and said any new spending should be offset by corresponding cuts. The government already faces a $22 trillion debt, a figure that grows every year, Paul said.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the 9/11 bill would result in about $10.2 billion in additional compensation payments over 10 years, including more than $4 billion for claims already filed.
Gillibrand said 9/11 first responders and their families have had “enough of political games.” The legislation has 74 Senate co-sponsors, including Gillibrand, and easily passed the House last week.
The bill would extend through 2092 a victims compensation fund created after the 2001 terrorist attacks, essentially making it permanent. The $7.4 billion fund is rapidly being depleted, and administrators recently cut benefit payments by up to 70%.