[Video below.] Following a barrage of attacks from both sides of the aisle, Republican House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) assured Tri-State lawmakers that a vote on the full $60.4 billion superstorm Sandy aid bill will come in less than two weeks.
“It’s going to be $9 billion on flood insurance this Friday will be voted on. And then on Jan. 15, the first full legislative day, will be the additional $51 billion will be voted on and that’ll come to a total of $60 [billion], which is what the total was of the bill that was supposed to be voted on this week,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) announced Wednesday afternoon. “All I care about is my constituents, the constituents of New York and New Jersey who were absolutely devastated. Clearly, the Speaker responded and I take him at his word.”
Following his earlier harsh words for the top Republican in the House, King also said he plans to vote for Boehner to retain his title of Speaker of the House on Thursday.
Earlier, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie didn’t hold back when calling out fellow Republicans in the continued fight to secure more federal aid for the victims of Sandy.
“There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims – the House majority and their speaker John Boehner,” Christie said.
Christie, upset by how many days it has taken for lawmakers in Washington to act, called the decision by GOP leadership to end its term without approving the $60.4 billion bill “disappointing and disgusting to watch.”
“We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. Or at least we did until last night. Last night, politics was placed before our oath to serve our citizens,” Christie said.
On Friday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a $60.4 billion measure to help with recovery. The House Appropriations Committee drafted a smaller version for $27 billion with plans to add an amendment for additional long-term help.
A vote had been expected before Congress’ term ended Thursday at noon. But since the Republican leadership opted to abandon it, representatives on both sides of the aisle have been lashing out.
The Garden State governor continued his diatribe by saying “Last night the House of Representatives failed that most basic test of public service and they did so with callous indifference to the suffering of the people of my state.”
WCBS 880′s Levon Putney reports
Christie said he felt “betrayed” by the inaction of lawmakers and how the House leadership played New York and New Jersey like “pawns.” He also conveyed that residents in his state were likely feeling the same way.
“Everything is a possibility, a potential piece of bait for the political game. And it’s just…it is why the American people hate Congress,” Christie said.
Area lawmakers from both parties also took to the floor of the House Wednesday to blast the GOP leadership for its decision to end its term without approving
Several lawmakers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut said Speaker Boehner’s decision to abandon a vote this session would be a crushing blow to states ravaged by the devastating storm.
WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reports
“There was a betrayal,” said Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). “There was an error in judgement that is going to cost, I think, the trust of the American people.”
“How can we treat an entire region of the country this way,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “It is the most disgraceful action I’ve seen in this House in 20 years I’ve been here.”
Long Island Rep. King called it a “cruel knife in the back.”
“I have to go home this weekend and next week and the week after and see the hundreds, the thousands of people who are out of their homes, who don’t have shelter and who don’t have food,” King said on the House floor.
He said some Republicans have a double standard when it comes to providing aid to New York and New Jersey.
“These people have no problem finding New York when it comes to raising money,” King said. “It’s only when it comes to allocating money that they can’t find the ability to do it.”
“Mr. Speaker, reverse your decision now and let’s do the right thing by our people,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said on the House floor.
“Government is about helping families recover and rebuild from major disasters like Superstorm Sandy,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said. “In a shocking display of neglect, this House majority decided not to allow a vote on disaster aid funds so desperately needed to recover and repair from this storm.”
“This should not be about politics,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.). “We need leadership.”
Other lawmakers of Boehner’s own party also blasted the inaction.
“This is a disaster on top of a disaster,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) said on the floor Wednesday. “We need the federal government to step up so people’s lives can be put back together.”
Boehner has not explained why he decided to cancel the vote, but sources told CBS he plans to meet with Republican members of the New York and New Jersey delegations Wednesday afternoon. He has told them he will make the supplemental request his first priority in the new Congress.
The earliest a vote could come from the House on the Sandy aid bill is Jan. 20, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
“Never before has this country walked away from its obligations to help its fellow Americans in the wake of a natural disaster. But that’s exactly what the House Republican leadership told New Jersey and New York, in essence, to drop dead,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told WCBS 880.
In a written statement, President Barack Obama urged House Republicans to bring the bill to a vote, saying storm victims need “immediate support with the bulk of winter still in front of us.”
Speaking at a news conference in his Midtown office, Sen. Charles Schumer said Boehner “pulled out the rug from under us at the last-minute.”
“We gave relief to Katrina within a week. Almost every other major disaster has gotten relief within a month. We are now two and a half months away from when Sandy hit and there is still no relief for New York,” Schumer told reporters, including WCBS 880′s John Metaxas. “This failure to get relief now could be called the ‘Boehner Betrayal.'”
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