Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, D-NY, have announced that the Senate has reached a deal to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which will provide $6.2 billion for permanent healthcare and compensation for  the approximately 20,000 Americans who are suffering from illnesses contracted while working at Ground Zero in the weeks following the terrorist attacks.

The Christmas Miracle we've been looking for has arrived, the lawmakers said in a joint release today.  Over the last 24 hours, our Republican colleagues have negotiated in good-faith to forge a workable final package that will protect the health of the men and women who selflessly answered our nation's call in her hour of greatest need. We are pleased to announce that we crafted an agreement that will allow this legislation to pass the Senate, and the House, this afternoon. We thank our Republican friends for coming together to fulfill America's moral obligation to the Heroes of 9/11.

This has been a long process, but we are now on the cusp of the victory these heroes deserve, they said.

The Senate is expected to vote on the Zadroga bill later today after finishing up business on the START Treaty for nuclear arsenal reduction. The Zadroga measure would then return to the House for approval of changes made. The House passed the bill in September.