The long fight for healthcare and compensation for Ground Zero workers is finally over. The U.S. Senate today passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act by unanimous consent.

With this vote, Congress repaid a long-overdue debt and answered the emergency calls of thousands of ailing 9/11 first responders and survivors, said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a sponsor of the House bill.

 The Christmas Miracle we've been looking for has arrived, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, both D-NY, said in a joint release. We thank our Republican friends for coming together to fulfill America's moral obligation to the Heroes of 9/11.

The measure will bring permanent healthcare and compensation to the approximately 20,000 Americans who are suffering from illnesses contracted while working at Ground Zero in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. 

The bill, named for an NYC police detective believed to be the first person to die from working on the pile, passed the House of Representatives in September.

It will now go back to the House for approval because of Senate amendments. The House is expected to pass it at once. President Obama has said he will sign it.

The measure that passed the House provided $7.4 billion, but the Senate version pares that figure down to $4.3 billion.

John Feal, a demolition worker injured at Ground Zero and the founder of the FealGood Foundation for Ground Zero workers and their families, said the bill is not perfect but he'll take it, and that first responder families will have something to celebrate this holiday season.