I talked a little while ago with President of the Professional Firefighters of Maine John Martell, who was on the phone from Washington. His organization endorsed Sen. Collins in 2008.
Martell made a passionate, pointed case for the Zadroga Act, describing first responders who lost their lives on 9/11 as the "first killed in action" in our nation's ensuing military battles. And after mentioning his own military background, he called 9/11 responders and those who worked the pile afterward "domestic veterans" who deserve "nothing less" than what is owed to battlefield soldiers.
He said he "feels very strongly that" Sen. Gillibrand has addressed Sen. Collins' insistence on appropriate offsets. And while he declined to single out Maine's junior senator for criticism, he drew attention to the different budgetary standards being used by some to assess the Zadroga bill and the recently-enacted, deficit-ballooning tax cut package.
"If we can't take care of the people who took care of us," he said--some of whom are "dying"--then it would be a "harmful, almost shameful statement about who we are as a nation."