by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond

Congressional roll call ‘­Congress managed to pass two more pieces of legislation for President Obama’s consideration before going home for the holidays. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which creates a program of healthcare benefits for eligible first responders who were on the scene near the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, passed the Senate by a voice vote on Dec. 22, and then cleared the House by a vote of 206 to 60.

Among House members representing parts of the Triad, Democrats Mel Watt and Brad Miller voted for the bill, while Republican Virginia Foxx voted against it and Republican Howard Coble did not vote.

The Senate vote to ratify the START treaty also took place on Dec. 22.

Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican from North Carolina, spoke out against ratification on the Senate floor on Dec. 16.

“This treaty submits and subjects our nation’s objectives in missile defense to the review and approval of the Kremlin,” Burr said. “And this treaty ignores the nuclear capabilities, desires, ambitions and plans of nations and non-nation actors who seek to undermine and harm US national security interests.”

Consistent with her party, Sen. Kay Hagan, the Democrat from North Carolina, voted in favor of ratification.

“This will assist us in obtaining international consensus regarding nuclear proliferation challenges from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea,” she said during a Dec. 20 floor statement. “It will also send a positive message in achieving consensus with other countries on nuclear issues. It’s important to keep in mind that United States and Russia hold over 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. If the two nations that possess the most nuclear weapons agree on verification and compliance, and are committed to nonproliferation, it will improve our ability to achieve consensus with other countries.”