WASHINGTON - (AP) - Backers of a bill in Congress to help peoplewho became sick after working in the World Trade Center dustcreated by the Sept. 11 attacks say they are optimistic the Senatewill approve the measure before the lame-duck session ends.

Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer of NewYork said Sunday they are offering a less-costly alternative to theoriginal bill to aid 9/11 responders and survivors, saying thatthey believe it will gain needed support from the GOP.

Republicans have raised concerns about the bill's cost and howto pay for it.

Supporters were three votes short of the 60 votes they neededfor the bill on a recent test vote.

The House has passed the original bill but would have toconsider any new version.