Washington - Scared GOP Sen. calls the cops on advocates for our 9/11 heroes
Washington - Republican senators were so worried about meeting with 9/11 responders who came here Thursday that at least one called the cops on them, the Daily News has learned.
Even before the nine responders had a chance to start visiting senators' offices - where they intended to stay until meeting with lawmakers - they were greeted by Capitol Police, who had been called by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.).
Collins apparently reacted to a story in Thursday's News, which quoted a letter to senators from 9/11 advocate John Feal. It warned that he and others planned to sit in offices until they got meetings - or the police made them leave.
Collins is among the senators the 9/11 community hopes will come over to their side, but her call to authorities left them wondering if they could succeed.
"I'm deeply disappointed in Sen. Collins for calling the Capitol Police, but they welcomed us with open arms," said Feal, although he wound up with a police escort for the first stops on his visit.
"I'm more disappointed that Susan Collins is hiding behind ideology, and now the police, to stop from helping us. And the people she called to stop us are just like us. It's a little ironic."
Officers eventually determined he and his team were not threatening and left them alone.
Only one Republican has agreed to back the $7.4 billion James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and even he - Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois - voted against bringing it up until the Bush-era tax cuts are extended.
Collins' office did not immediately comment on why she was worried enough about the 9/11 responders to call police.
The advocates - all of whom worked at Ground Zero - are growing desperate with time running out in the Senate.
The Zadroga Act either needs to be attached to other legislation or passed on its own before the year ends, and the calendar is crowded with other measures.
Procedural hurdles can also be thrown in the way of any bill if senators don't want to deal with a measure.
If the bill does not pass this year, it is all but dead. The responders are so concerned they also targeted Democrats who voted for the bill, hoping to inspire leaders to take every step possible.
Their luck wasn't been much better. A group of retired cops, construction workers and firefighters heading to visit the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) bumped into the Rev. Jesse Jackson leaving a meeting there.
Jackson stopped and held an impromptu prayer circle with them in the hallway, but Schumer strolled by, waited for an elevator and hopped on without a word.
"It was disrespectful," said former NYPD emergency services cop Glen Klein. "It seems like he's not concerned about our welfare. He could have at least stopped as said hello."
A Schumer spokesman said the senator was in a rush to get to a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and the responders met with Schumer's top two staffers.
"Hopefully he was on his way to a meeting to get a vote on our bill," Feal said.