CNN Wire Staff
Washington (CNN) - A group of 9/11 first responders joined lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday to urge the Senate passage of a health care bill meant to provide free medical treatment to those suffering from the health effects of working in and near ground zero following the 2001 attacks.
"Fourteen of our guys died that day and we continue to see our friends die on a day-to-day basis," said Glen Klein, a New York police officer who said he is sick with lung disease. "We're asking for the right to live."
In the years following the attacks, health experts have noted respiratory and mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, in those who engaged in ground zero rescue and cleanup efforts.
"Apparently we have some senators who would like to believe that when 343 fire officers and firefighters [and thousands of civilians and police officers] died on 9-11...that was the end of it," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
"If that were true, we could move on."
The bill has been in legislative limbo since Thursday, when Senate Democrats failed to win a procedural vote to open debate on it.
But on Sunday, Democrats said they were hopeful they had pulled off "a Christmas miracle" by changing the bill enough to garner Republican support.
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