WASHINGTON - (AP) - The House has approved a bill to give up to $7.4 billion to workers sickened during the cleanup of World Trade Center site in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The 268-160 vote on Wednesday came after passionate floor debate. Democratic supporters said they were standing up for sick Sept. 11 heroes. Republican critics branded the bill as yet another big-government entitlement program that would boost taxes and kill jobs.

The bill would provide free health care and compensation to rescue and recovery workers who fell ill after working in the trade center ruins.

It was a second showdown for the bill, which failed to pass in a July vote.

New York lawmakers have been pushing such a measure for years. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate.