Must Read: Gov. Christie Blames Boehner, House GOP on Sandy Aid
Hauppauge, N.Y. (MorichesDaily) – The House adjourned without voting on aid for Hurricane Sandy victims with Seaford Congressman Peter King calling his fellow Republican’s decision “inexcusable.”
Update: Congressman Peter King says House Speaker John Boehner has promised votes to aid victims of Superstorm Sandy by Jan. 15.
Republican Rep. Peter King says the speaker will schedule a vote Friday for $9 billion in flood insurance and another on Jan. 15 for a remaining $51 billion in the package. The votes will be taken by the new Congress that will be sworn in Thursday.
Obama, who is back on vacation in Hawaii, urged House Republicans to act on Sandy aid “without delay for our fellow Americans,” on Wednesday morning.
In a joint statement — Governors Cuomo and Christie commented on Congressional Failure to Pass Hurricane Sandy Relief Package:
“With all that New York and New Jersey and our millions of residents and small businesses have suffered and endured, this continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable. It has now been 66 days since Hurricane Sandy hit and 27 days since President Obama put forth a responsible aid proposal that passed with a bi-partisan vote in the Senate while the House has failed to even bring it to the floor. This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented. The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty. When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night.
“The people of our states can no long afford to wait while politicians in Washington play games.”
The decision by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to pull the bill back from an expected vote on the Senate-passed $60.4-billion super-storm Sandy disaster relief package left many New York Congressional members dumbfounded.
King told reporters it is unprecedented for lawmakers to walk away from a natural disaster. Sen. Charles Schumer calls the move “truly heartless.”
“Tonight’s action not to hold this vote on the supplemental is absolutely indefensible,” King said. “The bill was ready to go.”
Schumer says House Speaker John Boehner should reconsider his ill advised decision.
Rep. Steve Israel, of Huntington, a member of the House Democratic leadership, also reacted with surprise and anger.
“I’m simply shocked at the decision to ignore the Sandy relief bill . . . Congress passed measures to provide aid to Kabul and Baghdad without blinking an eye, but two months after Sandy, the House hasn’t acted to help New York.”
The new 113th Congress will hold its first meeting at noon tomorrow.
King said the failure to hold the vote means that there are certain badly needed funds that require authorization that will be delayed, including flood insurance for those who had paid premiums and releasing FEMA disaster fund monies.
“If we don’t do it now, we’re talking about another five or six weeks,” King said.
There was no sign of a response from House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio or Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who are in charge of scheduling the House.
The decision also prompted swift reaction on the house floor last night with angry denunciations from members from the states hardest hit by the storm.
“I have just been informed that we will be having perhaps no further votes in this Congress,” said Democratic Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland. “I am deeply disappointed at that information. We have millions of our fellow citizens who have been badly damaged by a storm called Sandy.”
“We help each other,” Representative Rush Holt, a Democrat of New Jersey, said on the House floor. “We always have … There are thousands of people who are not going back to their homes. They deserve our help.”
The October 29 storm devastated New York and New Jersey coastlines with lesser damage felt along coastal areas of Delaware and Maryland.
Many Republicans in Congress say that the Sandy aid bill contains billions of dollars in spending on projects unrelated to damage caused by the storm or for long-term infrastructure improvements that should compete with other discretionary spending.
Among expenditures criticized was $150 million to rebuild fisheries, including those in the Gulf Coast and Alaska, thousands of miles from Sandy’s devastation, and $2 million to repair roof damage that pre-dates the storm on Smithsonian Institution buildings in Washington.
A full aid package was approved by the Senate last week.