Sandy reliefFacing bipartisan outrage, House leadership abandons plan to postpone Sandy relief vote
Responding to bipartisan outrage expressed by the New York and New Jersey congressional delegations, House Speaker John Boehner said he was committed to hold a House vote by 15 January on a large relief package for victims of Superstorm Sandy; in addition to abandoning the plan to postpone the vote, the House leadership also gave up on bringing to a vote the $27 billion relief measure proposed by the House Appropriations Committee, and instead will bring to a vote the White House-proposed and Senate-approved bill, which calls for $60.4 billion in disaster relief
Responding to bipartisan outrage expressed by the New York and New Jersey congressional delegations, House Speaker John Boehner said he was committed to hold a House vote by 15 January on a large relief package for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
The Speaker’s pledge came after members of the two delegation reacted with incredulity at the decision, passed late on Tuesday, to postpone the vote to the next session of Congress.
Representative Peter King (R-New York), who earlier in the day minced no words in harshly criticizing the GOP leadership for the postponement, met with Boehner behind closed door, and emerged to say that the Speaker promised a vote on Friday to approve a $9 billion flood insurance measure, and a vote on 15 January to approve a $51 billion aid measure.
“As far as I’m concerned, I think I can speak for all of the members of the New York and New Jersey delegations, it was an extremely positive meeting,” King said.
For their part, Boehner and House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) confirmed the outline of the plan, and, in a written statement, said: “Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations.”
Fox New reports that the decision still moves the vote to the next session, which starts today, but that the meeting had managed to calm tensions in the party. King was among the most vociferous in his complaints, earlier describing the decision to put off a vote as a “disgrace” and “immoral.”
He even went as far as to urge constituents to stop donating money to congressional Republicans. “I’m saying anyone from New York and New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” King told Fox News. “What they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”
The New York Times reports that while President Obama urged the House to vote on the relief measure, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and New York governor Andrew Cuomo lambasted the “failure” to act, saying in a statement: “When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night.”
At a press conference earlier in the afternoon, Christie said the blame lies with House