Congress may have finally reached a budget deal last night, but many in New York and New Jersey are seething over House Republicans’ refusal to vote on aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy before Congress’ final term ends tomorrow.
The Senate approved a $60.4 billion disaster relief bill last week to help with recovery from Sandy. The House Appropriations Committee drafted a smaller, $27 billion measure, and a vote had been expected before Thursday.
But Speaker of the House John Boehner decided to abandon the vote.
New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, one of the main co-authors of the Senate bill, called the denial of assistance “a new low for House Republicans.”
New York Rep. Peter King, a Republican, excoriated his fellow party members, telling Fox News, “These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars. They’re in New York all the time filling their pockets with money from New Yorkers. I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds. Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”
And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released this joint statement:
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 bipartisan 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.
Some Republicans argued that too much pork was added to the bill, including $150 million in aid to Alaskan fisheries and $2 million for a new roof for the Smithsonian.
A spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, told the Associated Press, however, “The speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.”
Photo of Seaside Heights, NJ, from Wikipedia