To the dismay of northeastern politicians and their local press, House Republican leadership chose to delay a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief funds Tuesday evening.
According to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, the bill did not go to a vote before Congress adjourned because New York’s two Democratic senators “packed it with pork.”
“They had the opportunity to have a $27 to $30 billion dollar legit relief package, packed it with pork, then dared us not to vote on it,” he said on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning. Among other non-Sandy related items in the $60.4 billion bill, reports The Atlantic Wire, was $150 million in aid to Alaskan fisheries.
An aide to Speaker John Boehner says he is “committed to getting the bill passed this month,” according to Roll Call. But Boehner’s decision to forego a vote on the bill, which had been approved by the Senate on Dec. 28, means that the 112th Congress will end without passing a Sandy relief package.
The leadership’s decision to kill the bill was attacked by both Republicans and Democrats from the northeast. Rep. Peter King, a powerful and long-serving Republican from New York, called the move “absolutely indefensible” and “a betrayal of trust.”
“I am here tonight saying to myself for the first time that I am not proud of the decision that my team has made,” Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican who represents the still-suffering Staten Island borough of New York City.
Hurricane Sandy devastated coastal areas of New York and New Jersey when it made landfall late last October. It either destroyed or left uninhabitable at least 2,000 homes in Long Island alone and, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, could cost his state $42 billion in damages.
UPDATE: King indicated in an interview with CNN Wednesday morning that he may leave the Republican Party over the decision to kill the Sandy aid bill, and people from New York and New Jersey to stop giving money to the House GOP.
“I’m saying anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one single penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined. I would not give one penny to these people, based on what they did to us last night.”
When asked if he would leave the GOP, King refused to rule out the possibility.
“I would say the Republican Party has said it’s the party of family values,” he said. “Last night it turned it’s back on the most essential value of all, and that’s to provide food, shelter, clothing and relief to people that have been hit by a national disaster. And I would say the Republican Party has turned its back on those people, and it’s going to be very hard for me to ask for any of those people to vote for the national Republican Party.”