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Deal reached on 9/11 health bill

From NBC's Kelly O'Donnell and Carrie Dann

UPDATED 1:44 pm ET: A deal has been reached to pave the way for Senate passage of a health bill to aid 9/11 first responders.

Some GOP senators, led by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., had been blocking quick passage of the bill over objections about its cost and the process by which the legislation passed through Congress.

But after negotiations led by New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, the impasse appears to have been broken, possibly setting up the last legislative action of the 111th Congress this afternoon.

"The Christmas Miracle we've been looking for has arrived," the New York senators said in a statement. "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."

It's now expected that no objections will be raised that could slow down or kill passage.

The agreement reduces the total cost of the bill, closes the compensation fund after five years, and limits attorneys fees.

"I'm pleased the sponsors of this bill agreed to lower costs dramatically, offset the bill, sunset key provisions and take steps to prevent fraud," Coburn said in a statement.

The bill must be approved by the House (which has remained in session in hopes of the chance to approve the measure) before going to the president for signing.